Panzura postgame wrap: Bulls 128, Pelicans 112
With its leading scorer sidelined early in 2021-22, New Orleans will need to play mistake-free, efficient offensive basketball to have a chance to compete against every opponent. On Friday, the Pelicans weren’t able to pull off either of those, committing too many turnovers and going through a few extended shooting droughts in the United Center.
Chicago took full advantage, racing to an early double-digit lead and never being seriously threatened. The Bulls opened a season 2-0 for the first time since their “Big Three” was Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo.
New Orleans actually finished at 48 percent shooting from the field and 52 percent on three-pointers, but those numbers were a bit misleading after the guests heated up for 37 fourth-quarter points.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
DeMar DeRozan swished a mid-range shot and was fouled by Trey Murphy, converting a three-point play that gave Chicago a 100-75 lead with 10:29 remaining in regulation. The Bulls started the fourth period on an 8-0 run. Chicago led 65-47 at halftime and was still up 17 through three quarters, eventually creating a 30-point margin.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
With accurate deep shooting off the dribble, Devonte’ Graham provided a life raft for New Orleans’ offense as the visitors tried to keep Chicago from running away and hiding. Graham hit several pull-up threes among his 6/11 three-point night, scoring 18 of NOLA’s 75 points through 36 minutes. He tacked on another trey in the fourth quarter to finish with 21 points.
BY THE NUMBERS
17: New Orleans total turnovers, meaning the Pels only committed four in the second half, but by then the damage was done. DeRozan got rolling in the first half on fast breaks, while in the second half Chicago ran out numerous times for dunks and layups.
10: New Orleans bench points through three quarters. The group tacked on 16 in the fourth period, topped by seven apiece from Jaxson Hayes and Kira Lewis Jr.
17-10-10: Stat line in a triple-double by Chicago point guard Lonzo Ball, who played the previous two seasons for New Orleans.
The NBA has not hesitated to make major changes over the past few seasons in order to try to improve the product. In a fan poll on Twitter, voters were asked to pick their favorite change among these three options: a) the elimination of free throws rewarded for non-basketball moves; b) the reduction of instant replay usage; c) the introduction of the 7-10 play-in tournament. The first option was the overwhelming selection, receiving 82 percent of votes. As @ryancaz put it, “The awkward move fouls made the sport unwatchable at times. I love the rule change.” The play-in round only garnered nine percent of ballots, but @eflynt noted, “(I) have to go with the play-in. It just completely changed the competitiveness of the final month of the regular season.”