Coby White39s career best night pushes Bulls past Kings NBC

Coby White's career-best night pushes Bulls past Kings – NBC Sports Chicago

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Chicago Bulls opened a four-game series against Western Conference teams with a 113-109 victory over the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center on Monday night.

“This is big,” DeMar DeRozan said. “We have to carry this momentum into the next game.”

Here are 10 observations:

—The Bulls rallied from a 22-point deficit in the third quarter and finished the game with a 9-1 run after Domantas Sabonis fouled out.

“This group continues to fight,” coach Billy Donovan said.

The Bulls have now had three comebacks of at least 21 points this season.

“I just think about the character of the guys in this room,” Coby White said when asked about the team’s resilience. “I have been here for five years. I played with some of these guys. But I just got to know their backgrounds, where they come from, their journeys, their stories and how they are able to fight through adversity just in life. The basketball court is simple. But what a lot of these guys have been through in their lives and how they fought through it and how they seemed to overcome every challenge that came their way and ran through the wall. The character of this space is what makes this basketball team resilient.

—White scored a career-high 37 points, his first 30-point game since Feb. 14. He shot 14 of 19 after failing to make an attempt in the first quarter. White also had seven assists in a strong all-around game. It's White's seventh 30-point game this season, matching his point total in his first four seasons.

“I just tried to let the game come to me,” White said. “Ayo (Dosunmu) did really well in the first quarter. He was really aggressive when things were going downhill, snapping and shooting. So I just tried to play off him and let him do his thing. And then when my chances came, I wanted to take advantage of it. I didn’t try to force anything.”

Here too, White reached his career high of 36 points in January 2021.

“But I also had zero turnovers (that night) and three (Monday),” White said, offering a glimpse into his winning mentality.

—Similarly, DeMar DeRozan attempted just one shot in the entire first half before taking over late and attempting to engineer a comeback win. He scored 19 of his 33 points in the fourth period and finished the game 10 of 12 from the field and 11 of 12 from the line.

“It’s just a feeling,” DeRozan said. “A lot of times it's just me physically or mentally trying to either gather data on how they're playing against us or trying to get the guys going. I have to get into it. It's just because I know myself. At some point I knew I could do it.”

White made sure the recognition extended beyond him and DeRozan.

“It was a team effort,” White said. “Ayo (Dosunmu) played really great. AC (Alex Caruso) had four steals. Julian (Phillips) came in, gave us some great minutes, had a great offense and got to the free throw line after a great ball cut that gave us a layup. Vooch (Nikola Vucevic) with a late tip that gave AC an offensive rebound. Drum (Andre Drummond) was incredible, shielding and getting all the guards downhill. JC (Jevon Carter) too.

“So I don't really look at it as, 'Oh man, me and Deebo are doing this and that.' I consider it a good, solid team win. And I’m proud of our team.”

—The Bulls' defense, which allowed two quarters of 35 or more points, failed as they gave up 24 second-chance points. The uphill feeling permeated the entire game. Seemingly every time the Bulls made up a significant deficit, they allowed an offensive rebound and gave up second-chance points. But Sabonis' foul seemed to energize the defense, which made big stops late.

Sabonis missed his first six shots and didn't score until the 3:40 mark of the second, but finished the game with 18 points and 19 rebounds, extending his double-double streak to 43 games. But Sabonis, who leads the NBA with 56 double-doubles, was fouled with 2:57 left.

—For the third game in a row, Nikola Vucevic showed great frustration. He threw a towel on the bench as he left the court during a timeout in the third quarter, minutes after he was whistled for two fouls, including a foul in transition. This came after he was sent off for a flagrant foul against Milwaukee and after Vucevic also hit the bench with a towel several times in frustration following a foul in the second overtime win against Cleveland.

—The Bulls continued to show the ups and downs that have characterized their season. They went on a 17-1 run to close out the first quarter, didn't make a single field goal in the final 3:52 of the game, and finished the quarter with eight field goals and six turnovers. Alex Caruso missed all seven shots in the first quarter, including five three-pointers. But then they opened the second quarter with a 9-0 run, including seven quick points from White, who made his first three shots, including a dunk against Harrison Barnes.

—The Bulls extended their run to 22-5 over the course of the second quarter and erased a 14-point deficit to take the lead. Caruso was all over the place on defense and had three steals in that span. White scored 13 points in the period. But the Kings ended the second period with an 8-0 run and went into halftime with a seven-point lead. DeRozan only scored one in the first half.

—De'Aaron Fox returned after missing two games due to a bruised knee and finished the game with 20 points and 10 assists. Ayo Dosunmu drew the lion's share of what was always a difficult game. However, that didn't stop Dosunmu from scoring seven of the Bulls' first nine points without a miss and finishing with 20 points.

—Julian Phillips served as the sixth man in a crucial role for the Bulls. Terry Taylor, Onuralp Bitim and Phillips have all served in this role recently. Phillips finished the game with six points and one rebound as the Bulls' bench provided very little. Phillips had a good fourth quarter and scored all of his points.

—In fact, Donovan mostly fell short against the Kings in an attempt to thwart a potent offense that relied largely on scoring at the rim. Phillips, Bitim and even Jevon Carter stepped up ahead of Andre Drummond in a rare first-quarter stint. And the double-big cast of Drummond and Vucevic never appeared. Donovan always deployed four guards or wings around one of the big men.

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