We’re back to continue the 2022-23 Chicago Bulls season recap. After we discussed their worst losses of the season, we now show the positives, the best wins of the season.
And considering how the Bulls really often showed up against the top teams in the league, there are many of these.
October 19 @ Miami Heat // 116-108
The season opener made us feel like this team could be as good, if not better, than last season. Lonzo Ball was going to be out for a while, and Zach LaVine was going to miss the opener. It didn’t matter, as the Bulls played a great game against the East’s 1 seed last season, who came within a bucket of making the NBA Finals.
DeMar DeRozan put up 37 points and 9 assists, Nikola Vucevic had a double-double, and the bench was efficient, but best of all, Ayo Dosunmu looked the part of a starting point guard, with 17 points on 50% shooting, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. It gave hope the Bulls could be fine without Ball (sadly, that did not last).
October 24 vs. Boston Celtics // 120-102
Now the Bulls played the East’s final representatives and quickly went down 19 points in the first quarter. It looked like the Bulls would be on their way to a third straight loss, but they quickly turned it around and ended up leading by 16 at the half. It was similar to their comeback in the first matchup against Boston from 2021-22.
The bench came up big, with four players +16 or better, including Alex Caruso at +26. DeRozan led the team with 25 points, and Ayo Dosunmu scored 22 on 90% shooting. Again it looked like the Bulls could survive without Ball.
December 21 @ Atlanta Hawks // 110-108
The Bulls now were struggling mightily and needed to start stringing together some wins after starting 11-18. They went into Atlanta, having lost on a buzzer-beater there 10 days before. It was a back-and-forth affair, and at the end, DeRozan got a look to win and air-balled. Luckily, John Collins lost the rebound, and Dosunmu quickly put it up for the win at the buzzer.
The Bulls almost blew the game after Caruso exited with injury but were able to come out with the win led by 70 points from DeRozan, LaVine, and Vucevic. When each of the big 3 scored 20+ points, the Bulls had a very high win percentage.
December 23 @ New York Knicks // 118-117
Back-to-back game winners. This time DeRozan hit a mid-range and-one to take the lead in Madison Square Garden and avoid a sweep by the Knicks. LaVine buried 33 points, DeRozan had 25, and Vucevic had 21, making it 3 in a row. The Bulls trio scored 20+ each and won. DeRozan and Vucevic each had double-doubles as well.
January 4 vs. Brooklyn Nets // 121-112
The Nets came into this game on fire, winning 12 in a row. But the Bulls have been known to be streak-busters (see Miami Heat, 2013) and were able to do it again. They took an early lead and weathered multiple runs by Brooklyn throughout the game. Ayo Dosunmu had a chase-down block on Kevin Durant, all starters were in double-figures (including 22 from Patrick Williams), and the Bulls survived 44 points from KD and 25 from Kyrie.
It was a tremendous wire-to-wire victory, with just one of 10 players without a positive +/- and a bounce-back from heartbreaking losses to the Cavaliers.
January 15 vs. Golden State // 132-118
Finally, the Bulls beat the Warriors for the first time in years, snapping an 11-game losing streak to the team. This was Nikola Vucevic’s best game of the season, as he scored 43 points and also had 13 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals. It made up for DeRozan being out that game.
Add in some great defense from Alex Caruso and Ayo Dosunmu on the Warriors that game, and 27 from LaVine, and finally, the Bulls had beaten the Warriors dynasty again.
February 4 vs. Portland Trail Blazers // 129-121
The third quarter is what makes this game belong here. The Bulls went down 18 in the third but quickly turned it around and went into the fourth quarter with a 5-point lead, then closed it out in the fourth quarter. The run in the third quarter included some big plays by the supporting cast, like 3 straight threes from Ayo Dosunmu and a big lob dunk to Patrick Williams.
Meanwhile, LaVine had 36 points as he dueled Damian Lillard’s 40, Nikola Vucevic had a 23-point double-double, and DeMar DeRozan had 27/7/7. The Bulls were now finally within a game of .500
March 8 @ Denver Nuggets // 117-96
The Bulls absolutely demolished the best team in the West in the second half, outscoring them 66 to 44. The bench had some massive minutes late in the third and early in the fourth to pull away, led by Patrick Williams and Coby White, who was starting to put together a great season.
Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic combined for 54 points as the Bulls, now with Patrick Beverley, were starting to at least look like a playoff team.
March 17 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves // 139-131 2OT
The Bulls should have put this game away quickly, with Karl Anthony-Towns being out and Anthony Edwards exiting with an injury. But Rudy Gobert, Mike Conley, and Jaden McDaniels had great games, forcing the Bulls into double overtime at home. In the first OT, the Bulls went down early, but Nikola Vucevic and Zach LaVine hit clutch shots to force a second one.
In the second OT, Nikola Vucevic had a posterized and-one dunk to take the lead, and DeMar DeRozan closed the game out. DeRozan had 49 points and 14 rebounds, LaVine had 39 points, and Vucevic had a double-double. Albeit a game that should not have been close, it was very fun.
March 20 @ Philadelphia 76ers // 109-105 2OT
The Bulls beat the 76ers earlier in the season behind ten 3’s from Zach LaVine, but Joel Embiid missed that game. This time, they finally defeated him for the first time in his career. It was a dogfight of a game, as 10 extra minutes of basketball didn’t have the total points hit the over at 225.
The big 3 each had 20+ points again, and the Bulls shut down James Harden, limiting him to 5 points. Derrick Jones Jr was the unsung hero, with a +13 (highest in the game) and with a huge block on Harden late to seal the victory.
March 26 @ Los Angeles Lakers // 118-108
LeBron James was returning from injury this game, trying to help the Lakers secure their spot in the play-in.
But he was stopped by Patrick Beverley and Co.
The Bulls bench came up big in the second and third quarters, giving the Bulls a lead they didn’t give up. The Bulls’ defense had a great game, and Zach LaVine’s 37 points was enough to defeat the King and the Lakers.
April 2 vs. Memphis Grizzlies // 128-107
The Bulls were down 15 at halftime, and it didn’t look good against the West’s 2 seed. But they turned it on in the second half, outscoring Memphis 75 to 39(!) and taking over the game. Every Memphis player had a 0 or worse +/-.
For the Bulls, Zach LaVine had 36, DeMar DeRozan had 31, Nikola Vucevic had a double-double, and Coby White had 19 off the bench. The Bulls now had a serious chance for home court in the play-in.
April 12 (Playoffs Play-In) @ Toronto Raptors // 109-105
They, unfortunately, did not get said homecourt and bad losses had them slide down to 10th in the East. And they went down 19 in the third quarter. But thanks to help from DeMar DeRozan’s daughter on Raptors free throws (they shot 18/36 from the line), the Bulls stormed back and won the game.
Zach LaVine had 39 points, DeMar DeRozan had some ferocious dunks, Nikola Vucevic had a double-double, Patrick Williams and Coby White were essential off the bench, and Patrick Beverley and Alex Caruso hit huge shots and got steals late to seal the win. This was the Bulls at their best this season.