The Chicago Bulls ended their two-game losing streak with a 104-91 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night. The Bulls were boosted by the return of their two All-Stars, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic, who had missed several games due to injuries.
LaVine, who had been sidelined for 17 games with a right foot injury, and Vucevic, who had missed five games with a groin injury, both came off the bench for the Bulls. They played limited minutes but made a significant impact on the game.
LaVine scored 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including 4-of-8 from three-point range, in 24 minutes. He also added four rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Vucevic had 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting, 15 rebounds, four assists, and two blocks in 28 minutes. He also made four three-pointers.
The duo combined for 49 points, 19 rebounds, and seven assists, and helped the Bulls outscore the Hornets by 21 points when they were on the court together.
Bulls dominate the paint and the glass
The Bulls took advantage of the Hornets’ lack of size and depth in the frontcourt, as they dominated the paint and the glass. The Bulls scored 50 points in the paint, compared to 36 for the Hornets. They also outrebounded the Hornets 54-38, including 16-9 on the offensive boards.
The Bulls had four players with double-digit rebounds: Vucevic (15), Coby White (10), Patrick Williams (10), and Javonte Green (10). White also had 22 points and six assists, while Williams added 12 points and two blocks. Green, who started in place of LaVine, had eight points and two steals.
The Bulls also held the Hornets to 39.8% shooting from the field and 28.6% from beyond the arc. The Hornets were led by Miles Bridges, who had 25 points and nine rebounds. Terry Rozier had 18 points and six assists, while LaMelo Ball had 16 points, seven rebounds, and six assists.
Bulls improve their playoff chances
The win improved the Bulls’ record to 18-20, which puts them in the 10th spot in the Eastern Conference standings. The Bulls are one game behind the ninth-seeded Hornets and two games behind the eighth-seeded Wizards. The Bulls are also two games ahead of the 11th-seeded Raptors.
The Bulls are hoping to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017. They have 24 games left in the regular season, including 13 at home and 11 on the road. They have a relatively easy schedule, as they only face nine teams with winning records.
The Bulls will face the Nets on Sunday, followed by a four-game road trip against the Magic, Wizards, Celtics, and Cavaliers. The Bulls will need to continue to play well and stay healthy, as they have a chance to climb up the standings and secure a playoff spot.