The Chicago Bulls pulled off a nail-biting victory on opening night against the Detroit Pistons, 94-88.
This wasn’t the offensive onslaught that the Bulls showed during their undefeated preseason schedule but the stout defense remained as they got stop after stop down the stretch to hold off the Pistons on the road. The outside noise looking down upon the individual defense of certain Bulls players sure was quiet tonight.
All-Star Zach LaVine led the way for Chicago with 34 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists on 11-of-17 shooting, including hitting clutch free throws with under a minute to go. Nikola Vucevic finished with his first double-double of the season with 15 points, 15 rebounds, and 4 assists.
DeMar DeRozan finished with 17 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals in his Bulls debut. Also in his debut, Lonzo Ball added 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Check out the individual player grades below.
Lonzo Ball: B
Providing easy buckets for his fellow teammates is what Ball was brought to Chicago to do and that’s what he did tonight. The stats didn’t jump off the boxscore but that’s typically not Ball’s true impact. What Lonzo brings to the Bulls offense, which he showed flashes of tonight, is crisp passes while directing traffic, pushing the pace, and quick outlets on the fast break for easy buckets.
With such scoring threats like LaVine, DeRozan, and even Vucevic, Lonzo will be the beneficiary of open looks from deep, which as he proved last season, he’ll knock down.
Zach LaVine: A
Zach LaVine was in mid-season form tonight as he helped clinch the game for the Bulls down the stretch with clutch free throws, which he hit 11-of-11 on the night.
The 2021 All-Star looked as in control as ever against the Pistons. LaVine’s efficient scoring punch led the way for Chicago in a low scoring contest, though only hitting 1-of-5 from 3-point range.
With new scoring threats and playmakers alongside him in DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball, look for LaVine to have many efficient scoring nights like this this season.
DeMar DeRozan: B
In his debut in a Bulls uniform, DeMar DeRozan showed flashes, like Lonzo, of why he was brought here int he first place. DeRozan gives the Bulls a secondary scoring threat from the wing which Zach LaVine didn’t have alongside him last season.
If DeRozan can continue to build on his chemistry playing within the offense and compete on the defensive end like he, and the team as a whole, showed tonight, this Bulls team can make some noise.
Patrick Williams: C+
Patrick Williams was fine tonight, who missed just about all of training camp and preseason with an ankle sprain. Playing alongside this starting group, Williams won’t be looked at to particularly score or produce offensively. It’s on the defensive end and making high basketball IQ plays where Williams will make his bread and butter for this team.
Holding the Pistons to just 88 points, which Williams had a helping hand in forcing both Saddiq Bey and Jerami Grant into shooting just 40%, is what Williams brings to the table.
Nikola Vucevic: B+
Nikola Vucevic was a handful on the glass for the Pistons to handle on Wednesday, grabbing 15 rebounds, including five on the offensive glass. Though he struggled shooting from the floor, only 7-of-21, Vucevic will find his groove within this new offense.
Adding a player like DeMar DeRozan to the Bulls may take away from some looks on the offensive end for Nikola Vucevic this season, but he’ll be sure to impact the game in other ways and always act as a threat to score when on the floor.
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