Why Bulls believe an already efficient offense can be even better

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K.C. Johnson
·4 min read
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Bulls believe already-efficient offense can be even better originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

News flash: The Bulls aren’t going to score 46 points in a quarter very often.

In fact, given that the output marked the highest-scoring quarter of the season and tied for the fifth-highest in franchise history, Monday’s third quarter, which came during a methodical 120-100 blowout of the Rockets, is one for the books.

It’s also one for the film room -- and emblematic of the way this surging Bulls team is playing. Unselfish mindset. Strong, purposeful cutting. Heady passing. Sizzling shooting.

One of the best quarters I’ve been a part of in my career,” Thad Young said.

Keep in mind that this is Young’s 14th season.

The Bulls shot 19-for-25 in the period, including 7-for-9 from beyond the arc. They posted 10 assists. All seven players who logged minutes scored and all but Wendell Carter Jr. posted at least one assist.

Here’s all you need to know about the Bulls’ scoring depth and balance: Coby White, who led the Bulls with 24 points and also had 10 rebounds, scored just two points in the period and played less than Tomáš Satoranský. That’s because White exited to the locker room to get a bloody nose addressed -- he also hit his head on the basket stanchion but said afterward he’s fine -- and coach Billy Donovan rolled with the hot unit.

“It’s crazy. I think Zach (LaVine) had, like, (seven) points at the half and I went back for like two or three minutes and when I come back, I see Zach’s got 20,” White said, laughing. “So I asked Wendell, ‘What happened?’ He said, ‘Bruh, he went on a 14-0 run.’ And I was, like, ‘Dang.’

“I’ve been saying this since the year started: Everybody just has one common goal and that’s to win. That’s all we really care about as a team. We don’t really care about who gets off. We know, like, Zach’s going to go out there and get his 30. That’s just who he is. But other than that, we don’t really care, man, as long as we win the games. It’s fun playing with everybody.”

LaVine didn’t actually go on a 14-0 run. But he did score 11 points in 1 minute, 29 seconds and 14 in the period on 5-for-5 shooting, including three 3-pointers.

LaVine, obviously, has this ability to score in bunches. But his approach to the night -- a read-the-defense start that featured him setting up teammates, followed by a scoring explosion -- is more proof of his growth and this offense’s potential.

For instance, coach Billy Donovan consistently talks about cutting to create better shots for your teammates. When one rare possession bogged down, LaVine cut hard from the point and Young, who has been a revelation this season, hit him with a no-look bounce pass for a layup.

“You have a team that’s willing to play for each other,” Young said. “It’s kind of like the same thing when I was in Indy. We played for each other. We always tried to have 30-plus assists a game and everybody just played for one another. This kind of gives me the same vibe and the same feel. Guys are locked in, and we’re all playing for each other.

“We understand who our main guys are, but we also understand there are four other guys out there that are around the guy with the basketball. So we all try to move, cut and make reads for each other and try to make the game as easy as possible. And I think that’s what it has been. Coaches have been harping on us continuing to get open shots and play really good basketball, and we’ve been doing it.”

The Bulls also have benefitted from better ball security this month. They committed just 12 turnovers against Houston. And like any good coach, Donovan emphasized that even that low number could’ve been lower.

Donovan also jokingly said he didn’t want to talk too much about the Bulls’ improved ball security, a huge issue earlier this season, so as not to jinx it. But that’s the thing: If those numbers stay down, an already well-oiled offense runs even smoother.

So, no, 46-point quarters aren’t going to happen all the time. But the Bulls, who finished with 24 assists, narrowly missed their 20th game with at least 25. They placed six scorers in double figures, which they’ve done consistently.

There’s a lot to like.

“There’s progress being made with our group,” Donovan said. “I think we’re trying to play the right way. This is a very unselfish team and an extra pass team and a group that’s willing to pass the ball.”

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