Bulls vs. Hornets game preview: there are no “gimme” games for Chicago

Feb 2, 2023 - 10:49 PM
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Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Tonight, our Chicago Bulls look to avenge their incredibly depressing 111-96 collapse against the Charlotte Hornets last week in a rematch at the United Center.

At 23-27, Chicago is currently the 11th seed in the East, and could really, really use supposed these “gimme” wins against lottery-bound clubs like the 15-37 Hornets if it’s serious about competing for a play-in tournament spot. But, as we know, this team is not particularly serious about that, at least as currently comprised.

It’s hard to predict what will happen tonight, given how listless the Bulls’ defense looked against the Hornets last week, and how inconsistent its offense was late. Young, athletic guards like LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier gave the Bulls fits. Rim-rolling Hornets center Mason Plumlee also had a huge game, significantly outperforming his Chicago counterpart Nikola Vucevic. Charlotte also pummeled Chicago on the boards and in fourth-quarter scoring.

DeMar DeRozan had a big night for the Bulls in the defeat, and every Chicago starter scored in double figures, but the bench gave the Bulls nothing. All of Chicago’s “Big Three” need to stay motivated through all four quarters (Zach LaVine and Vucevic had erratic games last week). Meanwhile, Alex Caruso and Ayo Dosunmu need to help contain the Hornets on drives and hope they miss from deep, for the Bulls to nab the W and inch closer to a .500 record.

With a week left before the NBA trade deadline, the time for team president Arturas Karnisovas to “assess the roster” is rapidly running out. We know what this team needs if it’s hoping to actually be competitive down the post-All-Star break home stretch of the regular season (three-point shooting, a rim-protecting backup center, defense everywhere). We also know that a lot of the Bulls’ best veteran players could yield solid returns (DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, and Alex Caruso) on the trade market. It would behoove the team to at least pick a direction, standing pat with this rudderless club would be a massive mistake.

Injury Report:

Nothing different than last matchup, outside of Goran Dragic being available tonight after he missed the unexpected walloping by the Hornets last week.

Game Time: 7 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago.

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