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10 observations: Javonte Green's career-high night lifts Bulls past Knicks

Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

The Chicago Bulls defeated the New York Knicks 108-100 on Friday night at the United Center. With the victory, the Bulls pulled a game ahead of the Atlanta Hawks with five to play in the race for homecourt advantage in the play-in matchup between the nine and 10 seeds.

Javonte Green’s career-high night led the way, continuing his nice surprise storyline to end the season.

“We needed a spark like a Woo,” DeMar DeRozan said, using Green’s nickname. “For him to come back, somebody we know and understand and are comfortable with and we know what we’re going to get, we’ve been feeding off that.”

Here are 10 observations:

—Fresh off signing for the rest of the season and becoming eligible for both play-in and playoff games should the Bulls reach the latter, Javonte Green served as sixth man in the first half and then started the second half for an injured Coby White and finished the game for an injured Alex Caruso.

—White rolled his left ankle midway through the second quarter when he got engaged on an Isaiah Hartenstein screen. He immediately ran to the locker room, favoring the ankle. White returned to sit on the bench before the half ended. But when he came out to test the ankle for halftime warmups, he again retreated to the locker room, this time with a dejected look on his face.

Caruso left with 3:59 left when Jalen Brunson, who finished with 35 points and 11 assists, stepped on the same left ankle that Caruso has been nursing for weeks. Zach LaVine and head athletic trainer Todd Campbell helped Caruso to the bench during the ensuing timeout and then Caruso walked gingerly to the locker room on his own.

Coach Billy Donovan said the team didn’t yet know the severity of the injuries. Both players walked under their own power postgame and appeared to be in good spirits. Donovan said while the team would prefer to have homecourt advantage for the play-in game that obviously health is the main priority.

—Green finished with his first career double-double, scoring a career-high 25 points and grabbing a career-high 13 rebounds. It’s hard to overstate how much Green’s energy impacted the Bulls, who watched a 20-point first half lead dwindle to four in the third quarter. Time and again, Green delivered a big play at an opportune time.

“He’s one of those guys you want to have on your team,” DeMar DeRozan said. “For him to bounce back in a tough year for him just trying to get back healthy and for him to be doing what he’s been doing since he came back is amazing. We all know what to expect from Woo. Every time he goes out there, he plays like he’s 6-9 and he does anything and whatever for the team.”

—Not only did coach Billy Donovan use the double big lineup of Nikola Vucevic and Andre Drummond down the stretch, both finished with double-doubles. Vucevic sank a massive 3-pointer with 93 seconds left for an eight-point lead as the Bulls won another clutch game. They’ve played the most clutch minutes in the NBA.

With DeRozan finishing with 20 points and 10 assists, the Bulls had four players in double-doubles in regulation for the first time since 2003. Earlier this season, the Bulls had four players with double-doubles in an overtime game against Cleveland.

—In the first half, Green replaced Alex Caruso early and immediately added energy to the Bulls’ strong first quarter. He dunked home a nifty feed from Ayo Dosunmu, scored on another drive and played strong defense. Green got the nod early over Torrey Craig, who the Bulls are monitoring closely as the knee injury that sidelined him earlier this season is having lingering effects.

“He works hard, but he also has that ‘dawg’ mentality in him to where once he steps on the court, there’s no easing into anything,” DeRozan said of Green. “It’s all out every time he steps on the court.”

—Craig started the second quarter. But by that time, Green also had landed in the center of one of the most critical calls of the game. Green stole the ball from Josh Hart on a drive in the waning seconds of the first quarter. As Hart descended, his foot made contact with Green’s head. Officials initially whistled Hart for a technical foul but went directly to the replay monitor to check for intent. After a long delay, officials ejected Hart for a flagrant-2 foul, rescinding the technical by rule in the process. Hart had scored 31 points for the Knicks in Thursday’s victory over the Kings, so this represented a huge loss.

—Green then threw down such a nasty, double-pump reverse dunk in the second quarter that crew chief Scott Foster assessed the Bulls bench a technical foul for celebrating too hard and coming onto the court. Andre Drummond looked to be the biggest offender.

“He dunks like he’s 6-9,” DeRozan said of the 6-4 Green. “How fast he gets off the floor, how quick he is, how hard he dunks the ball. He’s one of a kind. I’m glad to have him back.”

OG Anunoby returned after missing nine games. The Knicks entered 15-2 with him in the starting lineup since his acquisition from the Toronto Raptors.

—The Knicks finished a back-to-back set of games, having beat the Kings in New York on Thursday. The Bulls played after a rare three-day break between games, two of which didn’t feature an official practice. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Bulls jumped to a 12-point early lead.

—Ayo Dosunmu scored seven of the Bulls’ first nine points without a miss and 12 of the first 18 with only one miss. Dosunmu’s 14 first-quarter points represented almost half of the Bulls’ 29 first-quarter points as they shot 54.5 percent with 10 assists in the opening period.

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