Keys To The Game: Bulls vs. Rockets (12.20.21)

The Bulls kicked off their return to action in a big way, beating the Los Angeles Lakers 115-110 at the United Center behind a huge 38-point effort from DeMar DeRozan.

It was truly an impressive showing from Chicago after a week off from basketball.

Chicago's rest will be short though, as the Bulls take on the young and feisty Houston Rockets on Monday night.

Team Effort On Offense

DeMar DeRozan is obviously a central part of the Bulls' success. His 38 points against the Lakers was his second 38-point showing against the Lakers this season. But with the Bulls being on the second night of a back-to-back, it would behoove Chicago to help him carry the scoring load.

The Bulls received a combined 36 points from Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso, who both played huge roles in maintaining the Bulls offense sans Zach LaVine.

Chicago will need that kind of effort again tonight.

Better Communication On Defensive Rotations

When the Bulls suffered an upset loss to the Houston Rockets on November 24, 2021, a big part of their failure was bad communication on defensive rotations.

The Rockets hit 47% of their 3-point shots in the game, knocking down a whopping 17 shots from beyond the arc. It is unlikely that the Rockets get that hot again from deep against Chicago, but a failure to get a hand in the face of shooters will still yield bad results on top of creating a bad process.

Look for faster, more crisp defensive rotations from Billy Donovan's Bulls.

Attack From The Low Post/Establish Vooch

Nikola Vucevic took the second-most shots on the Bulls in their first matchup, taking 16 field goal attempts. He was 6-of-16 from the field but still finished a -2 on the floor in a game the Bulls lost by five. So his positive contributions still shine through.

But against the Rockets, on the second night of a back-to-back, Chicago will have a much smoother road to victory if Vucevic can have a big scoring night inside the paint.