The Chicago Bulls ran away with a 107-72 win over the New Orleans Pelicans led by big nighs from Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol, but a lot of their success had to do with Anthony Davis leaving the game early due to a worrying injury.
Davis ran up the court for a slam dunk to put his team up by two points but landed awkwardly from hanging off the rim. He tried playing a short while with a hurting shoulder, Davis left the game and the road was paved for the Bulls to take over. How did they respond? By outscoring the Pelicans 40-11 the moment Davis left the game, and that was pretty much all she wrote, as the Pelicans were outscored 77-40 overall since the moment their franchise player got injured.
Derrick Rose scored 20 points in 28 minutes including going 2-of-5 from beyond the arc while Pau Gasol had a much easier time without having Davis to worry about, adding another double double to his long list of those this season, finishing with 20 points and 15 rebounds. Jimmy Butler scored 18 points, being the only Bulls player to play more than 29 minutes, carrying on with his good form since missing the game against the Warriors, which was also the last time the Bulls won, following that big victory with three consecutive losses.
It’s scary to think just how bad the Pelicans were without their best player, one of the leading MVP candidates, although the way the voting for the award works, his team has to make the playoffs in order for him to get recognized. It’s not a written rule, but voters usually don’t recognize players on teams that aren’t going to have some kind of chance going into the postseason. At 24.5 points and 10.3 rebounds per game Davis is on the right path, but his team’s 27-24 record, good enough for 9th in the West, could use some fixing up.
Besides being outscored by 37 points during his absence, the Bulls shot more than 24 percentage points better when he left (from 34.6% to 58.6%). There was also huge discrepancy when it came to rebounding. With Davis on the floor the Pelicans grabbed 53.6% of them, but dropped to only 41.8% once he hit the bench. The Bulls didn’t really dominate the offensive glass (just 8), but with the Pelicans shooting 37.2%, it was quite easy for them to not have anyone fighting them on the boards.
Back to Butler, who actually started this game awfully, going o-of-5 from the field during the first quarter. He finished with a 6-of-14 night from the field backed up by going 6-of-6 from the line. Tony Snell was red hot whenever he touched the ball, scoring 19 points off the bench in 29 minutes which included going 5-of-6 from beyond the arc. Doug McDermott scored nine points in only four minutes as the Bulls are hoping to get him more and more involved now that he’s 100%.
The Bulls needed this win badly. There’s pressure from the front office to catch up with the top teams in the East and the stories about Tom Thibodeau not getting along with the general manager and other members in the franchise keep making the headlines, while the Bulls are struggling without Mike Dunleavy. In a desperate attempt to generate any kind of momentum, playing the Magic and Kings next might be very helpful.