Bulls observations: LaVine stars, offense hums in win vs. Kings originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The Bulls got back in the win column, beating the Sacramento Kings 122-114 at home to move to 13-16 on the season.
The Kings played without Harrison Barnes (who had 20 points in these teams' first meeting of the season on Jan. 6), Richaun Holmes (who had 24 and 8 rebounds) and Glen Robinson III.
Here are 14 observations:
1. This is one the Bulls had to have. The Kings entered play with a 12-16 record and the worst defensive rating in the association, and started a relatively motley crew without Barnes and Holmes:
For most of the night, the hosts appeared poised to handily take care of business, but the Kings trimmed an at one point 14-point lead to as few as two early in the fourth.
2. The offense, at least, looked great throughout. Indicators: The Bulls finished with 59.8-47.8-86.7 shooting splits and placed six players in double-figures. They also set a new season-high with 66 points in the paint, shooting 33-for-50 in the lane. The Bulls entered play averaging 48.1 paint points per game, ninth in the NBA, and cleared that mark late in the third quarter.
3. The starting backcourt had a strong scoring night, combining for 57 points and eight made 3-pointers.
4. Coby White again took advantage of a great matchup, scoring 19 (5-for-8 from deep, many catch-and-shoot) without a turnover. He notched a career-high 36 points against the Kings in these teams' first meeting, but entered play having scored in single digits in two straight games, and 3-for-17 from 3 in his last three.
5. A few quick zoom-ins on Zach LaVine:
- He dusted a rare rough shooting night against the 76ers to score 38 points on sterling 15-for-20 shooting. His 16th straight 20-plus point outing and 15th 30-spot of the season (and seventh in last eight outings). In his final game before the coach's vote for All-Star reserves are due, he was brilliant.
- Nine of those field goals came in the restricted area without a miss, moving his season-long field goal percentage at the rim to 68.6 percent (7.1 attempts per game). He and Ben Simmons are the only guards in the NBA making more than four restricted area field goals per game.
- For the third game in a row, LaVine notched multiple steals (3) and guarded De'Aaron Fox for stretches.
6. Wendell Carter Jr. put his playmaking hat on for this one, slinging 5 assists (and hockey-assisting a big 3 from White to put the Bulls up 109-101 with 5:56 left in the fourth). Billy Donovan said before the game that Carter's processing speed was still coming around after returning from his 11-game injury absence, but he was sharp passing out of the pocket throughout.
Donovan also called out Carter's propensity for falling into foul troubles. That recurred. But in a loud sequence with just over three minutes to play, Carter blocked Marvin Bagley III on back-to-back shot attempts to maintain an eight-point lead for the Bulls.
7. Thad Young again closed the game at the small-ball center spot and was typically brilliant with 18 points and 4 assists. He also hit the most Thad Young dagger of all time: A spinning floater in the lane with 45 seconds to play to pull the Bulls ahead 118-112.
8. Patrick Williams canned a 52-foot buzzer beater to end the third quarter...
... and notched the second double-double of his young career with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Nine of those points came in the second half after some mild struggles in the first. He's now averaging 6.6 rebounds since moving into the starting power forward spot with Lauri Markkanen injured (eight games).
9. Donovan rode a nine-man rotation in this one that didn't feature Luke Kornet or Daniel Gafford, both of whom have struggled of late. Ryan Arcidiacono played 15 minutes.
10. Jabari Parker made his season debut for the Kings in the second quarter, and how fitting for it to come in Chicago. His first defensive possession was a bit unsightly, and he finished with 2 points in nine minutes.
11. Marvin Bagley III loves playing the Bulls. After posting 26 points and 11 rebounds, two of his eight double-doubles this season have come against them.
12. Though the Bulls entered play No. 3 in the NBA in defensive rebounding rate, the offensive glass was a problem for the second game in a row. The Kings pulled down 12 offensive rebounds and won the second-chance points battle 20-4.
13. The Bulls posted their fifth 40-point quarter of the season in the second, shooting 15-for-20 (75 percent) from the field and 5-for-6 (83.3 percent) from 3-point range. Because the Kings scored 37 points of their own, the hosts lead only extended from 28-21 to 68-58 by the break.
14. With a win and a Charlotte Hornets loss, the Bulls could have moved into the East's eighth seed by way of owning the tiebreaker. But a flukey ending to Hornets-Warriors -- which included a Draymond Green ejection and Terry Rozier buzzer beater in the game's final 10 seconds -- keeps the Bulls on the fringe for the time being.
Next up: The Bulls travel to Houston to face the Rockets Monday.