The Chicago Bulls came into Portland, down four players and facing what many consider the best backcourt in the NBA.
Before they knew it, the Trailblazers had converted on their first four three-point shots. Having given up 62 points to Steph Curry the game before, Portland looked like they were ready to feast on the young team from Chicago.
Down by 20 in the second quarter the Bulls of last year would have put their heads down like a puppy who just soiled mommy’s carpet. Instead, these Bulls climbed back to within 4 points by the end of the third quarter. These Bulls outscored a strong Blazer squad by 21 points over the final 33:29 of the game. They did it as a team, not with Zach LaVine going off for 49.
Dear Mr. Boylen, This is what a team looks like with a “spirit and soul”.
The heartbeat is once again beating. Bulls Twitter was alive again. At one point I said to my wife, they are down by twenty, I may watch the second half on replay in the morning. Ten minutes later I said, forget it, it is only a seven-point game now. One could sense these were no longer puppies. These are the Chicago Pit Bulls (and I love Pit Bulls!).
It would be easy right now to write a piece about the big shot Zach hit down the stretch and his nine assists in the absence of Tomas Satoransky and Ryan Arcidiacono. Or about Coby White hitting pressure packed free throws and pulling down ten rebounds. Or about Otto Porter who grabbed one of many important rebounds to secure the win while also connecting on four three pointers.
Did I mention the bench? Thad Young and Denzel Valentine with eight rebounds each? Garrett Temple with four three pointers?
Head Coach Billy Donovan even made sure to have a timeout left at the end of the game (and used it) which enabled them to advance the Ball to mid court with a second left on the clock. Last year, that probably would not have been an option.
There are so many positive things happening with the Chicago Bulls, one would think the sea is about to split.
Clearly, the Moses in this story has to be Donovan. The offense is flowing. Once at full strength, the second team of Young, Porter, Satoransky, Temple and Daniel Gafford could wind up being the best second unit in the league. All that while the young guys on the first unit grow up quickly.
Donovan’s even keel on the sideline, his knowledge of the game and his ability to win the players trust is evident. The transformation is even more impressive considering there was no training camp.
It would be easy to get excited. But there is no time for that. Tonight, the Bulls continue this west coast trip and land in Sacramento where a 3-4 Kings team has just been decimated, losing by 31 on Monday to the revived Golden State Warriors.
If the Bulls can pull out back-to-back wins on the road, down four players, after an emotional triumph last night, then you can put this team back on the board of legitimacy.
The biggest test will be for Zach and Coby who played over 42 and 38 minutes, respectively. They will be matched against Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox in a match up of young backcourts eager to be recognized among the best.
Oh, did I mention Wendel Carter Jr. had an offensive rating of 129 to a defensive rating of 108!!!!?
And the rookie! P-Will with 14 points……….