Second-half surge leads Bulls to overtime win
|Saturday, March 18, 2023, 7:58 AM- -|
CHICAGO - The Chicago Bulls will not make it easy on themselves, but at least they will keep things entertaining. After falling to the 12th seed in the East after their loss on Wednesday, the Bulls welcomed in the Minnesota Timberwolves (35-36) for the first of a back-to-back.
Needing as many wins as possible to make the playoffs this season, the Bulls had their chances throughout the first half, but still managed to trail by five after one half of play. The Timberwolves continued to build on their lead in the third quarter and stretched that lead to double-digits as the Bulls were in danger of dropping a crucial game they needed.
Then came the fourth quarter when the Bulls turned it up both offensively and defensively. Led by their big three, who combined to score more than 100 points in the game, the Bulls used a massive fourth quarter to outscore Minnesota 33-23 and helped force overtime.
They continued to take it to the Timberwolves in the extra frame as the Bulls flipped a switch and never looked back. The end result was a much-needed win and perhaps one of their best wins of the season as they took down the Timberwolves 139-131 in OT. This was a massive win for the Bulls, but at the same time, a significant loss for Minnesota as they, too, are battling for a postseason spot.
As mentioned, the Bulls big three carried this team as they combined for more than 100 points in the win. I don't care who you are. If you have three players scoring 100 points, it will take a lot of work for everyone to beat you. Coming up with his best game of the season was Demar DeRozan, who put the Bulls on his back and set the tone.
DeRozan knocked down 15-25 shots from the field for 60% shooting and then connected on 17-18 free throw attempts. That resulted in an incredible 49-point, 14-rebound double-double as he set the tone for Chicago. Along with him came Zach Lavine, who has been on a two-month-long tear.
That tear continued as he nearly added 40 points of his own and finished with 39 points while also knocking down 15-25 from the field. Anytime you get that type of production from these two, things are going well, and the Bulls thrived off that production all game.
Wrapping up the big three was the big man Nikola Vucevic who put forth a strong double-double. Granted, he didn't shoot that well from the field, but he still finished with 21 points to go with 11 rebounds, as his presence on the inside was huge. While those three provided nearly 75% of the scoring for this team, the Bulls still had to get minimal production from the rest of the players.
They got that from Coby White and his eight points off the bench and seven more from Alex Caruso. Throw in 10 more points from Patrick Williams and Patrick Beverley, and it led to the type of offensive production the Bulls have been waiting for.
While three players may have led the Bulls, the Timberwolves had much more balance and had six players land in double figures. The grandfather of the team, Mike Conley Jr, put forth a great showing on the floor and connected for a career-high eight triples on 12 attempts to lead the team with 28 points.
Jaden McDaniels put together another great game, adding four triples to finish with 25 points. Throw in 21 points and 19 rebounds from Rudy Gobert, and the Timberwolves had a strong cast of starters to lean on as they took every blow the Bulls gave them, but couldn't hold on.
While Naz Reid (14 points), Nickeil Alexander-Walker (12 points), and Kyle Anderson (11 points) added double-figure outputs, the big story of the game was how the Bulls defended Anthony Edwards. The third-year player from Georgia, Edwards, has emerged as one of the premier scorers in the game and has helped turn Minnesota into a playoff contender again.
With Karl Anthony-Towns unavailable, the role of Edwards is much greater, and the Bulls took him out of his game as he was held to just eight points. That was the difference in the game, as the Bulls lose if he has a typical Edwards outing. Chicago will be back on the floor Saturday when they host the Miami Heat for another critical game.