The Chicago Bulls overcame a pair of less-than-stellar performances from stars DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine to record their fifth win in their last eight games.
The Bulls will look to have all parties on the same page Saturday when they host the Portland Trail Blazers.
“It’s just a testament to our team,” said Ayo Dosunmu, who tied his season high with 22 points to lift Chicago to a 114-98 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday.
“We have a very deep team. It’s all about being ready, give the defense a different look and trying not to be predictable. DeMar, (Nikola Vucevic) and Zach cause a lot of attention. They are game planned for a lot, so there are opportunities for me to try to make plays. At the end of the day, it will help our team be a better team,” Dosunmu said.
Coby White scored 20 points, Vucevic collected 17 points and 12 rebounds, and fellow center Andre Drummond added 15 and 11, respectively.
The quartet’s impressive totals helped the Bulls overcome substandard efforts from DeRozan and LaVine. DeRozan finished with just 15 points on 4-of-12 shooting, while LaVine had 10 points to mark his lowest scoring output since he mustered just four on Nov. 18.
DeRozan boasts team-leading averages in points (26) and assists (five), with LaVine second in both categories (23.4, 4.2). Vucevic contributes a club-best 11.2 rebounds per game.
“We’ve got three All Stars who have been No. 1 options, guys who can put the ball in the basket at a very high level,” White said. “For me, it’s looking at what the game needs. … I can be a threat shooting the ball, but now I can also be a threat off the dribble, and that’s harder to defend.”
Portland’s Anfernee Simons proved to be hard to defend on Friday. He scored 20 of his 33 points in the third quarter and finished with nine 3-pointers, tying a career high, helping the visiting Trail Blazers overcome a 20-point deficit in a 124-116 victory over the Washington Wizards.
Damian Lillard collected 29 points and six assists and Trendon Watford scored a season-high 21 points off the bench for Portland, which announced Jusuf Nurkic will be sidelined until after the All-Star break due to a left calf strain.
“Approaching every day like I’m going to get in. You never know what the day might bring in,” Watford said. “Sadly, Nurk went down, and it’s next man up. That’s my job as a professional to stay ready and be who I am.”
Slow starts have plagued the Trail Blazers this calendar year, much to the chagrin of coach Chauncey Billups.
“For some reason, our team is just so much better when our backs are against the wall,” Billups said. “I’ve been on teams like that before. So, I understand it. But it’s a dangerous place to live.”
Portland aims to move above .500 for the first time in a month when it concludes its three-game road trip on Saturday.