The Bulls Monday broke their five-game losing streak in spectacular fashion with four Bulls scoring at least 20 points in a 115-109 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.
Nikola Mirotic, benched and inactive Sunday, came off the bench with a team high 24 points and five three pointers. Jimmy Butler had 23 points and 11 assists and Dwyane Wade 23 points and five assists. Rajon Rondo had 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists. The Bulls had 29 assists and an 18-2 margin on fast break points.
It was a renewed look Bulls team.
The Bulls were 14 of 40 on three pointer and improved to 32-35. The Hornets fell to 29-38. It was the first time since 2008 that the Bulls had four players score 20 points in a game. The Hornets had three players score at least 20 led by Jeremy Lamb with 26.
In the latest surprise in this Bulls latest box of chocolates season, Rondo was back starting and enlivened the offense with 13 points and five assists in the first half. The lately somnambulant Bulls scored 58 first half points with 18 first half assists for a 58-48 Bulls halftime lead. The Bulls led 36-24 after the first quarter and Sunday in Boston did not score their 36th point until midway in the third quarter. The ball movement and pace of game returned as the rotation also went back to a manageable 10 in the first half. The Bulls had 11 assists on 13 first quarter baskets with Mirotic also back in the lineup as first off the bench after being inactive in Boston. Mirotic responded with three three pointers in the first half.
The Bulls so called Three Alphas seemed energized again with all scoring in double figures in the first half. The Bulls moved out to a 20-15 start, saw Charlotte go ahead 23-20 and then the Bulls closed the first quarter on a 16-1 run for that 36-24 lead. The Bulls closed the quarter with four consecutive three pointers. The Bulls surged ahead 44-29 early in the second quarter on a pair of Mirotic threes. Charlotte came back within 48-40 and then the Bulls moved their lead out to 16 before Kemba Walker’s shooting pulled Charlotte within 58-48 at halftime. The Bulls first half included big highlights that included a Wade chase down block, Butler finishing on the break and Rondo with court length assists. The Bulls were 11-23 on threes in the first half.
The third quarter proved difficult for the Bulls as the Hornets opened with more movement, beating the Bulls to rebounds for a 9-2 start to the quarter that made it 17-4 overall since late in the first half. Butler and Wade driving the ball gave the Bulls more room, though their defense was scattered as the Hornets stung the Bulls in getting even at 69-69 on a Frank Kaminsky drive with 5:20 left in the quarter. And Wade had to go out with a leg problem after a scramble for a loose ball. It turned out to be just a cramp. The Bulls then got big plays from Mirotic and Rondo to hit Charlotte with a 14-4 run for an 87-77 lead going into the fourth quarter. The Bulls had a strong start to the fourth with the heady slashing play of Wade for a 93-81 lead. But Cameron Payne stopped the momentum with a series of misdirected jump shots and Charlotte got within 93-88 with 7:27 left. The Bulls got a tip in follow of a Wade miss and a pair of Mirotic threes, one after a Rondo miss, that enabled the Bulls to hang onto a 105-98 lead with two minutes left in the game.