Observations: Zach LaVine drops 40, Bulls blow out shorthanded Thunder

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Rob Schaefer
·6 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Observations: LaVine drops 40, leads Bulls past Thunder originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Bulls (18-20) extended their winning streak to two with a 123-102 win over a severely shorthanded Oklahoma City Thunder (17-23) team.

Here are 15 observations:

1. Availability report:

  • The Thunder played without Luguentz Dort (toe sprain), George Hill (thumb surgery), Al Horford (rest) and Darius Bazley (shoulder contusion). Dort, Hill, Horford and Bazley have each started every game in which they have appeared, leaving Oklahoma City's starting lineup with an average age of 22 and average photo-on-file of 0.8.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.
  • Garrett Temple (ankle sprain) missed his second straight contest with an ankle sprain. While Billy Donovan said pregame Temple has progressed and responded well, there isn't yet a timeline for his return.

2. The Bulls have now faced shorthanded opponents -- of varying degrees -- in all four games since the All-Star break. Their record in those contests: 2-2

3. The Thunder whistled for the first timeout of the night -- 96 seconds into the game -- trailing 8-2. It did little to quell the Bulls' attack. The new-look starting lineup jumped out to a 26-19 lead behind torrid shooting and multiple highlight-reel plays, including these sparkling dunks from Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen:

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

That advantage swelled to 42-28 by the end of the period, good for the Bulls' third-highest scoring quarter of the season. The Bulls shot 16-for-25 (64 percent), 6-for-12 from behind the arc. LaVine led scorers with 16 points (4-for-6 3P), while Tomáš Satoranský (5) and Thad Young (4) combined for 9 of the Bulls' 11 assists.

4. Fitting for a matchup against the Thunder, though, that that didn't last. The Bulls squandered an 18-point early second-quarter lead in a span of less than five minutes with a mostly-reserve unit in the game. When LaVine and Satoranský checked in for the first time in the quarter, the Bulls were -12 in the period, though they righted the ship to lead 71-63 at halftime.

5. Wendell Carter Jr. started the second half in place of Young, posting 3 points, 4 rebounds and an assist in 10 third-quarter minutes as the Bulls ballooned their lead. For the second consecutive game since taking a reserve role, Carter played with notable assertiveness, finishing with 9 points and 9 boards.

6. LaVine had one of those nights. After a second-quarter lull, he exploded for 20 in the third quarter alone to post his third 40-point game of the season before the period's end. Entering the fourth, he was 15-for-20 from the field and 7-for-12 from 3-point range, and that's where his evening concluded. He finished a game-high +36.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

7. Lauri Markkanen posted his third 20-spot in four games since returning from injury. It wasn't his most efficient shooting night (3-for-9 from behind the arc), but he played well downhill -- shooting 4-for-5 inside the arc -- and nearly touched his season-high of eight free-throw attempts, going 5-for-7 at the charity stripe en route to 22 points.

8. Donovan staggered Young's minutes with the reserves in the second half. For a spell, he looked to threaten for his first career triple-double once more, but finished with 17 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists -- somehow -- in just 22 minutes. His passing was once again superb and a boon for the Bulls' idealized style of play.

9. Fellow new starter Satoranský again stuffed the stat sheet with 13 points, 8 assists and 3 steals and finished a +28. He and Young really breathe life into the Bulls' offense.

10. Add Moses Brown to the list of bigs to have career nights against the Bulls this season. The second year, 7-foot-2 center posted his first career double-double with career-bests in points (20), rebounds (16) and blocks (5). His six first-half offensive rebounds is what prompted Donovan to start Carter in the second half, the Bulls coach said postgame.

11. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the way in the first half for the Thunder with 17 points, but finished with just 21 (10-for-17 shooting) and coughed up 8 turnovers. LaVine took the brunt of the defensive assignment on Gilgeous-Alexander during his 20-point third quarter, a point of growth Donovan praised postgame.

12. The Bulls started the game with Patrick Williams guarding Gilgeous-Alexander, a nod to his baptized-by-fire rookie year and how versatile the Bulls deem him to be. The results were mixed, with Gilgeous-Alexander beating him for a few buckets, and Williams affecting other shot attempts with his length, but their head-to-head moments faded as the night went along.

Overall, it was a bit of a disappointing night for Williams fresh off a career-high 23 points against the Raptors. He shot just 1-for-9 to finish with 2 points.

13. Coby White, too, shot poorly, finishing 2-for-7. He was also party to the lineups that allowed the Bulls' second-quarter stumble.

14. It's the Bulls second straight win, and the second straight convincing win over severely depleted competition. The offense again hummed to the tune of 25 assists and 51.1 percent shooting. But hardline takeaways on the new starting lineup or invigorated offense must wait for better competition.

15. The Bulls did, at least, allow LaVine, Markkanen and Satoranský to rest for a solid chunk of the fourth quarter. LaVine (31 minutes) played less than 32 minutes for just the fifth time this season, and the first time since Jan. 17.

POSTGAME REPORT

Satoranský, on his on-court chemistry with LaVine: "We don't need to even speak to ourselves, we just see on the floor. I see how he's guarded, he knows how to cut and what time... I think the best thing to do for him is to get him easy points that he doesn't need to work that much for."

Donovan, on LaVine's scoring: "The guy was unbelievable. He scored 40 points in 30 minutes. He was terrific. He was 7-11 in the first half and had 20 points. He made shots.  Quite honestly, I thought he was way better in the third quarter than he was in the first half and he had 20 in the first half. And the reason I say that is I thought he was aggressive and playing downhill."

Donovan, on the team's overall performance: "I didn’t think we were overall consistent. We had a real lapse (in the second quarter). Yes, we’ve played against some teams that have been undermanned so to speak. But listen, their second unit came in and I thought outplayed us there for that 6 or 8 minute period and got them back in the game and took the lead. I think there are areas we can clean up."

Next up: Home for the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday. 

Click here to subscribe to the Bulls Talk Podcast for free.

Download

Download MyTeams Today!