10 observations: Bulls beat Grizzlies, open another Zach LaVine absence

10 observations: Bulls beat Grizzlies, open another Zach LaVine absence originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

The Chicago Bulls took care of business against the shorthanded Memphis Grizzlies Saturday night at the United Center with a 125-96 victory.

Here are 10 observations:

---With Zach LaVine sidelined at least a week and possibly up to two with his sprained right ankle, look for DeMar DeRozan’s shot attempt to rise. DeRozan scored 18 points on 7-for-20 shooting, his second straight game with at least 20 attempts.

---But the Bulls used balanced scoring to pull away in the blowout victory. That was the hallmark of the improved play the last time LaVine sat with an injury. This time, seven players landed in double figures and the Bulls posted 32 assists. DeRozan had eight assists, and the Bulls improved to 7-2 with 30 or more assists.

"It definitely forces a challenge because you really can't key into one guy," Ayo Dosunmu said. "It makes us be able to get downhill more and make plays for each other and create open shots."

---The Bulls navigated LaVine’s previous absence with a 10-7 record. While LaVine isn’t expected to miss as much time this time, coach Billy Donovan said the previous practice should help this stretch. The Bulls went 5-2 in the seven games LaVine played after his return.

“He defended well. He moved the ball. I think he made good decisions. His assist totals were up. I think he’d been playing complete games,” Donovan said. “So I think he had been playing well.”

LaVine underwent imaging on his ankle, which has swelling. But Donovan said LaVine has experience returning from sprained ankles that should help him. LaVine is scheduled to travel on the Bulls’ three-game trip out West next week.

“He really enjoys being out there, playing. For him, I feel bad,” Donovan said. “Obviously, it was several weeks where he was dealing with his foot. He got through that, got back in and played seven games and now he’ll be out for a bit.”

---Then again, the Bulls, also still without Torrey Craig, weren’t really in position to complain compared to the Grizzlies. They played without eight---count them, eight---players in Ja Morant, Steven Adams, Desmond Bane, Brandon Clarke, Derrick Rose, Marcus Smart, Xavier Tillman Sr. and Jake LaRavia.

--Patrick Williams started for LaVine but took a quick seat just 4 minutes, 9 seconds after tipoff, replaced by Dosunmu. Williams had already attempted two shots, making a 3-pointer before Donovan’s decision, but also passed up an open shot. Williams then quickly returned at the 6:06 mark and promptly committed a turnover.

Donovan used this same rotation even earlier in the second half, inserting Dosunmu at the 8:46 mark. This time, Williams returned at the 5:05 mark. He finished with 15 points in 27 minutes.

Donovan said the first quick hook resulted from Williams failing to read and attack closeouts correctly, which he told him on the bench. The second one resulted from Memphis opening the second half on a run.

---Coby White didn’t score until the 4:40 mark of the second quarter after missing his first three shots. But in another example of White’s development, he still impacted the game with three rebounds and three assists before scoring. He finished with 17 points, five rebounds and five assists.

---Dosunmu helped inject some life into a sleepy start, placing his usual pressure on the rim and pushing the ball upcourt at most any opportunity. He finished with 20 points, six rebounds and four assists.

---With LaVine out, Jevon Carter played 17 minutes and contributed 12 points.

---The Bulls stumbled out of the second half, forcing Donovan to call timeout following a 10-1 Grizzlies run in which DeRozan received a technical foul. But a 20-5 run featured consecutive 3-pointers from White, Dosunmu and Alex Caruso and a transition dunk from White.

---Memory Lane visited the Grizzlies morning shootaround at the United Center. Joakim Noah visited close friend Derrick Rose, who remains out with his strained left hamstring. Rose, who drew a loud ovation when shown on the scoreboard late, could be back in early February. Noah, in town for various Bulls-related duties, also stopped by Donovan’s office pregame. They won two NCAA titles together at Florida.

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