Bulls

Four observations: Bulls rout Atlanta Hawks in much-needed get-right game

Four observations: Bulls rout Atlanta Hawks in much-needed get-right game

The Bulls picked up a valuable get-right win in a 136-102 blowout of the Atlanta Hawks. Observations from a game the Bulls had to win, and did handily:

The bench provided a spark (again)

Bulls starters not named Zach LaVine got off to a sluggish start in this one. At the 3:14 mark of the first, the Hawks led 29-21 and were shooting a scalding 13-for-18 (72.2%) from the field (3-for-6 from 3-point range). LaVine had 12 of the Bulls’ 21 points.

The hosts ended the period ahead 37-33, buoyed by a 16-4 run by a bench unit of Coby White, Ryan Arcidiacono, Denzel Valentine, Thad Young, and Daniel Gafford. Valentine hit four floaters over that stretch, Gafford had a resounding block, White had a strong and-one take over Alex Len and Thad Young tallied five points, for good measure. 

Bench runs have become commonplace for this Bulls team, even in the midst of a three-game losing streak. This one carried over into the second quarter, which the Bulls won 29-19, holding Atlanta to 6-for-21 (28.6%) shooting, 2-for-10 (20%) from three. They didn't look back from there.

Young finished the first half with nine points, four rebounds, and two assists. White had a flashy night — tallying 19 points. Valentine and Gafford connected on a handful of alley-oops (which has quickly become a tradition).

Zach LaVine bounced back

LaVine — averaging 20 points on 33.3% shooting during the team’s three-game losing streak — was ripe for a breakout, and this Hawks team (29th in the NBA in defensive rating) presented an opportunity to bounce back. He took advantage.

As mentioned, LaVine carried the Bulls offense early: he had 18 first-half points on 7-for-9 shooting. Embedded in that line were a few highlight-reel dunks that awoke the United Center:

He tacked on a cool 17 (!) in the third quarter before coming out with the game out of reach for the Hawks. LaVine finished the night leading all scorers with 35 points and shot a staggering 7-for-7 from 3-point range. When he’s on, it’s too much fun, and he dazzled in this one. 

In a favorable matchup, the defense kept rolling

Coming into this game, we knew the Bulls defense, theoretically, matched up well with Atlanta’s offense plan of attack. For the most part, that bore out, in practice.

Kris Dunn was outstanding in containing Trae Young tonight, hounding him off of every screen (where he was usually aided by a hedge from the big in coverage) and staying attached even in instances when Young was able to penetrate.

Young didn’t score until the 11:07 mark in the second quarter and finished the night with 15 points on 4-for-14 shooting (1-for-6 from three) and seven turnovers. This is the fourth-leading scorer in the NBA we’re talking about here. He did rack up 13 assists (six in the first quarter) — and some were very, very pretty — but most of those came in transition. In the halfcourt, the Bulls’ set defense effectively bottled him up.

The Hawks, as a team, committed 23 turnovers on the night, which the Bulls were able to convert into 15 points. Atlanta is an inferior opponent, yes, but it was a strong showing, nonetheless.

Blowouts are fun

This one was a little too close for comfort early on but ended in a rout. The Bulls simply outclassed the Hawks, winning statistical categories this team has often been overmatched in, from rebounds (42-40) to points in the paint (78-42), to blocks (7-4), to the 3-point battle. Lauri Markkanen even utilized garbage time to turn a fine stat line into a good one: he had 10 points in the fourth quarter, finishing the game with 22 points on 8-for-9 shooting. 

So, you know what? Rest your brain with some of the best clips of the night. You’ve earned it:

 

 

 

 

The Bulls can push questions about fourth-quarter stagnation, cold shooting streaks, and crowded rotations until this weekend. This was a solid overall performance.

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Bulls games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.

Chicago-native Zach Norvell Jr. waived by Lakers

zach_norvell_.jpg
USA TODAY

Chicago-native Zach Norvell Jr. waived by Lakers

The Bulls have been quite fond of adding players with connections to the city over the years. This list includes names like Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Jabari Parker, Eddy Curry, and even our very own Kendall Gill. And while the Bulls may not necessarily be in the market for any additions at the moment, there is least one name the Bulls should be monitoring if they aren't already and that is former Simeon alum Zach Norvell Jr., who was waived by the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. 

Coming out of Simeon, Norvell was an ESPN 100 prospect and a McDonald's All-American and committed to Gonzaga, where he starred for two seasons after a redshirt year. Norvell went undrafted but was picked up by a Los Angeles Lakers team that was particularly bereft of 3-point shooting, specifically volume 3-point shooters like Norvell, who shot 6.4 3-point attempts per game in his NCAA career and is currently attempting just under eight 3-point attempts per game in the NBA G League with the South Bay Lakers. 

The (NBA) Lakers don't really require much help at the moment, with their stellar defense and league-leading field goal percentage on offense resulting in them having the league's best record through 24 games despite ranking 25th in the league in 3-point attempts. The Bulls have, as head coach Jim Boylen so infamously stated, trusted 'the math' and thusly are top-10 in the league in 3-point attempts per game (8th in the league with 36.0 3-point attempts per game coming into Wednesday night). Despite their aggressiveness from the perimeter, the Bulls rank 22nd in the league in 3-point percentage (34.7%) and 22nd in assists per game, both areas where Norvell could provide help.

Since Norvell has been waived by the Lakers, he is no longer a two-way contract player (a player who plays in the NBA and G League) for them, but will still be playing with their G League affiliate should they choose to sign him to a G League contract.

The Bulls have the maximum amount of two-way players on the roster already (two in Adam Mokoka and Max Strus) but they could look to make a move to free up room for Norvell on the G League or NBA roster if they are interested. Mokoka specifically has struggled at the G League level (8.5 points per game on 34% from the field and 31% from 3) and may not necessarily need a two-way contract for the Bulls to keep other teams from snagging him, meaning that waiving Mokoka but keeping him on the Windy City Bulls roster while adding a shooter like Norvell could be an interesting value play for Chicago. 

Norvell is averaging 13.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.9 turnovers per game while shooting 35.3% from the field and 34% from 3-point range.

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Bulls games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.