10 observations: Bulls snap 3-game skid with impressive victory over Pacers

10 observations: Bulls snap 3-game skid with impressive victory over Pacers originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

The Chicago Bulls snapped a three-game skid with an impressive 125-99 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night at the United Center.

Here are 10 observations:

---The road team had won each of the first three games, but the Bulls broke that streak to win the season series 3-1. The Bulls, paced by DeMar DeRozan’s 27 points and six rebounds and 22 points and 12 rebounds from Nikola Vucevic, led from the 2 minute, 22 second mark of the first quarter on. The Bulls placed all five starters plus Andre Drummond in double figures. They had 28 assists with just eight turnovers. They also held the Pacers under 100 points for the first time this season and to just 40 pecent shooting.

"I thought we were really connected defensively," coach Billy Donovan said. "There was really good communication. I thought we were on point when we needed to switch and on point when we needed to stay in coverages and stay with our man. The way they helped each other was important."

Added Alex Caruso: "We played well. We covered for each other and didn't have any of those lapses where we gave up a slip-out layup or somebody forgot to rotate or didn't battle for the rebound."

---Vucevic took just five shots in Monday’s loss to Washington, a byproduct of guards missing him in the first half and plenty of defensive attention upon every touch in the second half. On Wednesday, Vucevic took five shots in the first 4:35 alone as the Bulls made a concerted effort to utilize him more.

"We talked about and drilled some of this stuff," Donovan said.

Vucevic is actually averaging the most shots and points per game in any of his three full seasons in Chicago. He posted his 41st double-double of the season. Drummond joined him in double-double land with 14 points and 11 rebounds. It’s the fifth time this season they both posted double-doubles in the same game.

---Alex Caruso put Ben Sheppard on skates with a nifty first-quarter move, making the rookie fall on a crossover and sinking the midrange jumper. Caruso returned to the starting lineup after coming off the bench last game and packed five points, three rebounds, three assists and one steal in his first rotational turn.

"You always gotta make that shot," Caruso said. "I was getting in a good rhythm with Vooch playing pick-and-roll. I had passed it a couple times, so I knew to come off and be aggressive. That one, I got off a nice move and got an open shot. As soon as I shot it, I thought it was going in and in my head I was like, 'Go in.'"

Caruso said he especially has to savor such highlights because he doesn't get many like that.

Caruso finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and a season-high-tying seven assists plus two steals. He has scored in double figures in four straight games. He also has recorded at least three assists in a career-high 10 straight games.

"I'm really just playing off the guys," Caruso said. "I know in pick-and-roll when the ball finds me on the second side or if I get a rebound and push it in transition, those are the times for me to be aggressive. The way Ayo (Dosunmu) has been playing and Coby (White) and Vooch and DeMar, I'm probably the fifth guy on the scouting report. So I usually have the worst defender or one of the worst on me. And I'm trying to take advantage."

---Fan favorite Javonte Green, signed to a 10-day contract with an injury hardship exception, drew his first action when Torrey Craig picked up three fouls in just eight minutes. Green drew a nice ovation from the United Center crowd when he checked in and promptly scored on a dive cut and blocked an Aaron Nembhard shot. Green later hit a 3-pointer to push the Bulls up by 22 points in the first half and he finished his first long rotational turn at plus-15.

---The Bulls led 64-43 at halftime, limiting the Pacers to their lowest first-half total of the season. Indiana, which is the highest-scoring team in the NBA, shot just 35 percent in the first half. Unlike in Monday’s loss to Washington, the Bulls contested shots well and limited offensive rebounds in the first half.

---Coby White, who entered 24-for-75 over his last five games, finished 8-for-21 with two assists. He hasn’t shot well since returning from a three-game absence with a hip injury but did have 10 assists in one of those games and has played solid defense. His night also ended with an emphatic slam over Doug McDermott and a 3-pointer, and he consistently penetrated the paint to set up others for open shots. He finished with 18 points and seven rebounds.

“He’s not a complainer and doesn’t make excuses,” coach Billy Donovan said. “So when you talk to him, he never goes, ‘Hey, my hip is bothering me. I’m still feeling discomfort. I feel like I’m 85 percent.’ He’s gotten good looks. He hasn’t shot the ball well. I think that will be an area of growth for him moving forward.”

Donovan credited White with his energy off the court too.

"I was explaining to Coby, 'Regardless of how it's going for you, you're going to have to be a let's go guy. You've established a voice,'" Donovan said. "And I give him credit. He didn't have a great shooting night at all. But he was into the game. He was into it on the bench. He was into it in huddles. He did a phenomenal job. Torrey Craig acknowledged after the game how much it helped him and thought it brought a lot of life to our team. I was very impressed with him."

---The Bulls continue to suffer self-inflicted wounds with avoidable technical fouls. Andre Drummond received one in the first half with a gesture at an official, while DeMar DeRozan got tagged in the second half for punching the stanchion in frustration.

---With Caruso starting on All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton, Ayo Dosunmu started on Pascal Siakam. Dosunmu also checked Siakam during the last matchup in Indianapolis and said he just focuses on getting his body on him because he cedes at least four inches to the All-Star forward.

Siakam only made two field goals as the Bulls used Dosunmu, Craig, Caruso and Green on him. Dosunmu played through an illness.

"He's a physical guy," Caruso said. "We did a good job for the most part not fouling him."

---Donovan said Zach LaVine, Lonzo Ball and Patrick Williams are scheduled to rejoin the team sometime around April 1---the day the Bulls face the Atlanta Hawks---to continue their rehab in Chicago until season’s end. LaVine, who recently welcomed his second child to his family, could arrive later. Ball continues to have no pain in running, cutting and jumping and controlled basketball activities but probably won’t attempt contact or 5-on-5 work until the offseason, according to Donovan.