The Chicago Bulls (39-21) defeat the Atlanta Hawks (28-31) 112-108 in a close contest. Here are some o the main takeaways from the game.
The DeMar DeRozan Show
DeMar DeRozan headlined tonight’s contest with yet another great offensive performance. The MVP candidate’s scoring ultimately carried Chicago to this victory. DeRozan got his points in a multitude of ways on all three-levels of the floor. DeMar’s crafty dribble penetration tore up Atlanta’s defense in the first half of play. Specifically, he took Danilo Gallinari to the hoop for an easy two, cashed in an intricate layup over Kevin Huerter, and torched Atlanta’s defense for an easy dunk. Evidently, Atlanta’s perimeter defense and one-on-one defense were no match for DeMar’s scoring talents.
However, the Hawks made some defensive adjustments that slightly slowed DeRozan down in the third quarter. They started blitzing the pick-and-roll, which forced the ball out of his hands quite a bit. But these adjustments weren’t enough as DeRozan toyed with Atlanta’s 2-3 zone defense. He and newly acquired Tristan Thompson developed a two-man game where DeRozan got great looks in the mid-range. As can be expected, DeMar cashed in on these opportunities off screens. What’s more, DeRozan’s shot creation was vital in crunch time. He drained a turnaround jumper over Bogdan Bogdanovic in the high-post area to give Chicago the lead that they won with. The all-star finished with 37 points (on 76.8 true-shooting percentage) and 6 rebounds.
Ayo Dosunmu’s Critical Defense
Rookie Ayo Dosunmu got the starting nod and had a tough assignment in Trae Young. However, the Chicago guard welcomed the challenge of defending Young and did a tremendous job. In detail, Ayo closed out on Trae’s shot attempts extremely well. Whether it was one-on-one possessions or battling through Capela’s tough flare screens. Also, Dosunmu found success in blitzing Young from way beyond the arc, which forced a turnover and made him uncomfortable. Atlanta’s star shot 3-17 from the field and this was largely due to Ayo’s underrated defensive talents. On top of this, the rookie impacted the game offensively as well. He got buckets on the fast break with his shot creation ability. And, the Chicago guard drained an important pair of triples that regained Chicago the lead in the second half. Dosunmu finished with 12 points (on 66.7 effective field-goal percentage), 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks.
In a nutshell, DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine’s offensive production mixed with Ayo’s defense heavily contributed to Chicago’s win.
A Two-Man Show
As a result of an off night from Trae Young, Atlanta’s offense was powered by Bogdan Bogdanovic and Danilo Gallinari. Throughout the game, Bogdan carried the load offensively through some rough patches. Bogdanvic displayed efficient three-level scoring in different situations. He was lethal from downtown as he connected on 5 threes out of his 12 attempts. His ability to knock them down in a catch-and-shoot situation and relocate for a better look was huge. As good as he was from beyond the arc, Bogdan was even better within the three-point line. He worked very well off of screen-action with Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu. Specifically, the Okongwu-Bogdanovic pick-and-roll penetrated through Chicago’s defense with Onyeka’s paint presence and Bogdan’s rim pressure. He finished with 27 points on 56.3 effective field-goal percentage.
Danilo Gallinari’s versatile scoring kept the Hawks competitive, especially in the fourth quarter. In the last period, he had 13 points on 5-6 shooting from the field. Like Bogdan, Gallinari’s perimeter shooting was lethal off the catch-and-shoot. Danilo’s rim pressure in isolation possessions and shot creation around the elbow baseline area headlined Atlanta’s offense. In total, Gallinari collected 26 points (on 63.0 true-shooting percentage) and 9 rebounds.
Capela’s Interior Impact
Clint Capela had a notable impact in the restricted area on both ends. Firstly, Clint Capela and Trae Young worked very well together in the pick-and-roll, despite the loss. Trae found Clint cutting from the top of the key and from the baseline for effortless dunks. Likewise, Trae was able to score in the mid-range off Capela’s physical flare screens. Defensively, Capela provided his standard rim protection and dominated the boards. Throughout the game, Chicago had a huge issue rebounding the basketball. The Atlanta Hawks collected 13 offensive boards and Capela had 6 of them. The Hawks were able to capitalize on these second chances, especially Gallinari and Kevin Huerter. Reserve center Onyeka Okongwu played a near identical role, but to a lesser impact. In the end, Clint Capela notched a double-double of 14 points and 17 rebounds.
All in all, the Atlanta Hawks couldn’t overcome a fatal off-night from Trae Young, poor collective shooting, and lackluster defense.