How did the Bulls manage to beat the best in the NBA?

The Bulls hit the trampoline hard this week. After losing four straight games, they not only bounced back with two wins, but also beat the NBA’s top two teams, Boston and Milwaukee.

Four days ago this team seemed to be in a bad place. The schedule slowed, they had plenty of practice time and got healthier, but put up some inexplicably poor performances.

Everything turned around just as quickly. They were in control from start to finish on Monday against Boston. Against the Bucks, they ended a tight game by notching three straight 3-pointers in the final 75 seconds — two from Coby White and one from Nikola Vucevic.

Was this a case where the cops had to scrape the floor to put themselves in the right frame of mind?

“Sometimes you just have to go through what you have to go through to understand what you have to understand if that makes sense,” DeMar DeRozan said after the game in Milwaukee. “And I think that’s exactly where we are.”

DeRozan, as always, was a catalyst. He equaled Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo with 36 points and assisted in the Bulls’ last two 3-point baskets.

“We had some bad moments, lost games in a row, dropped games we thought we should have won, tight games, got whooping cough at home,” he said. “We’ve already gone through so many emotions, 20 games in one season.


        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

“Sometimes that’s an advantage. They have to take that pain and turn it into competitors and I think that’s where we’re at right now.”

3-point shooting has stood out the most in the last two games. They went 14 of 29 against Boston and then went 18 to 42 in Milwaukee. The Bulls are now 6-0 when shooting 40% better from 3-point land.

The 42 3-point attempts was the most for the Bulls over the past two seasons, and the number ranks in the top 10 in franchise history. It was a group effort, with six different players hitting multiple 3s against the Bucks.

But a lot of little things take care of themselves. Defense and chemistry have improved. Striker Patrick Williams feels more comfortable and consistent. The Bulls are starting to throw more color accents at Vucevic. In the last two games, both Williams and Vucevic have achieved over 70% effective field goal percentages.

Ayo Dosunmu was good defensively and a video of him blocking Bucks’ Grayson’s Allen layup attempt was popular on Bull’s Twitter. On Wednesday, trainer Billy Donovan felt they needed some offense and went down the stretch with white instead of Dosunmu.

“By losing the games that we lost, we held each other accountable,” DeRozan said in Milwaukee. “Everyone spoke up whenever we had a chance – film sessions, practices – we were on each other, we picked it up. I think we just showed how much we want it instead of just talking about it.”

The Bulls aren’t out of the woods yet. They’re still only 8-10 overall and will play their next five games on the west road.

Every step of this road trip will be a challenge. The Bulls face three of the top five teams in the West (Phoenix, Utah and Sacramento). Friday’s opponent Oklahoma City was better than expected, while guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander deserved the MVP’s attention.

Golden State, while underperforming, is 8-1 at home. The Suns are 9-1 at home. The Kings are the hottest team in the west right now, leading 8-2 in the last 10.

“That’s how consistent we have to be,” added DeRozan. “Once we figure it out, we make it click… if we’re banned, these are results we can get. But we have to prepare for every single game. These last two games against the top two teams in the NBA show we can do it.”

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports



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