The Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets went back and forth for the better part of three quarters on Nov. 8 in the Windy City. But what looked like a barnburner suddenly turned into a blowout, as the Bulls treated Kevin Durant and a previously-surging Nets squad like faulty matadors in the fourth quarter.
Chicago dominated the final period and walked away with a 118-95 victory. The performance looked similar to the Bulls’ last win, which came at the TD Garden against the Boston Celtics. That triumph also featured a stunning fourth-quarter turnaround.
Head coach Billy Donovan’s team is developing a knack for late-game dominance and establishing itself as king of the fourth quarter.
The Bulls outscored the Nets 42-17 in the fourth quarter
Usually, 38 points from Kevin Durant would bode well for the Nets. However, the Bulls made the United Center feel like Pamplona as the night went along.
Chicago entered the final period trailing Brooklyn by two points. The Bulls left no doubt, steamrolling to 42 points in the fourth while holding the Nets to just 17. Durant scored 11 of Brooklyn’s 17 points, getting very little help from his teammates.
Meanwhile, the Bulls got contributions from everyone down the stretch. DeMar DeRozan had 10 of his team-high 28 points in the fourth quarter. Nikola Vucevic had four points on 2-of-11 shooting through three quarters, only to score seven points on a perfect 3-of-3 shooting down the stretch.
Chicago also got a big lift from rookie swingman Ayo Dosunmu, who figured to play a role in the rotation following a strong preseason and Coby White still out with a shoulder injury. Dosunmu matched Durant with 11 points in the fourth, going 4-of-5 from the field.
The Bulls had 10 assists to a single Nets dime. They shot 5-of-6 from beyond the arc, while Brooklyn only made one triple and shot 5-of-20 from the field.
It began as a hotly-contested matchup between Eastern Conference contenders. But it ended in embarrassment for the Nets, despite Kevin Durant’s typical brilliance.
Chicago’s late surge marked the second time it has outscored an opponent by 25 or more points in the final period
The Bulls have outscored opponents by 25 or more points in the fourth quarter in two of their last four games. The previous fourth-quarter surge had quite a bit more drama.
Chicago trailed the Boston Celtics and looked lifeless on Nov. 1 in Beantown. The Celtics appeared headed for a route as they entered the final period with a 14-point lead. However, the Bulls had other plans.
Zach LaVine and the Bulls didn’t just get back into the game. They turned the contest totally on its head and blew Boston out of the water with a 39-11 run. LaVine scored 13 points despite nursing a ligament tear, with DeRozan adding 10 of his own. Chicago converted on 13-of-16 field-goal attempts, whereas the Celtics made just five of their final 23 shots.
The Bulls have shown the ability to flip the switch at the end of games. That fighting spirit is invaluable for a franchise desperate to realize its playoff dreams.
The Bulls are preparing for a tough road trip
Chicago should take quite a bit of pride in that Nets win and cherish it for the time being, because it is about to embark on an arduous road trip.
The Bulls host Luka Doncic and the red-hot Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday before hitting the road. They have a West Coast swing that includes matchups with the Golden State Warriors, both LA teams, Portland Trail Blazers, and Denver Nuggets, though Denver may or may not be without early MVP favorite Nikola Jokic following his blatant shove of Markieff Morris on Monday.
Regardless, the Bulls have their work cut out as they hope to remain near the top of the Eastern Conference standings. They’ll likely need more late heroics to emerge from the trip mostly unscathed.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.