Bulls' big three's unselfishness on display in win over Raptors


(670 The Score) Battered by injury woes, the Bulls are at least thankful to have their top three players back together, and Wednesday evening showed why.

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DeMar DeRozan (29), Zach LaVine (23) and Nikola Vucevic (17) combined for 69 points on 28-of-46 shooting in one of the trio’s best performances of the season, leading Chicago to a 111-105 win against the visiting Toronto Raptors at the United Center. It marked the first time since Jan. 12 that the three had played a full game together, as DeRozan rested in a close win Monday and LaVine had been sidelined by a knee injury.

“Just sharing it, understanding teams are going to come after us,” DeRozan said of the approach. “Take what they give us, make our teammates better and just try to find our rhythm playing together. That’s the first time all three of us played together in a while. Just trying to get the rhythm back. On top of that, we had a few turnovers we wish we could’ve had back. But once we get in the rhythm of it, we’re going to continue to get better.”

DeRozan (seven), LaVine (eight) and Vucevic (eight) also combined for 23 of Chicago’s 32 assists on a night the Bulls moved and shared the ball well against a long, attacking Raptors defense.

“It just shows how unselfish we are – all three of us and in general as a team,” Vucevic said. “The way Toronto plays, they’re very aggressive on the ball, they’re very aggressive in helping and sending two people on guys with the ball a lot of times. And they do different things defensively. We talked about that before the game, and we knew we would have to share the ball and find the next guy to have a chance to beat them. I thought we did a good job with that.”

Vucevic hit the dagger 3-pointer with 14.5 seconds left, providing the final margin in the six-point win. It capped a second straight strong game for him in what’s been an inconsistent season for Vucevic. Amid his shooting woes, the Bulls have maintained confidence in him and encouraged him to keep firing.

“I don’t care how many shots he missed, I don’t care if he struggled the game before, the quarter before, the possession before, every time I see him load it up, I got the utmost confidence that it’s going to go in,” DeRozan said.

The Bulls have been without forward Patrick Williams since late October and are set to miss guard Lonzo Ball (knee) and guard Alex Caruso (wrist) for at least the next six to eight weeks. Despite the injuries and a recent rut in which they lost six of seven games, the Bulls have hung in there, improving to 30-17 on Wednesday and sitting in second place in the East, a half-game behind the first-place Heat.

Those facts have left DeRozan enthused while also understanding it will be on the Bulls’ go-to players to carry the workload at an efficient level amid injury adversity.

“It’s just more so all of us just being comfortable, playing off each other, trying to find a sequence with each other – who’s scoring, who’s moving the ball, breaking down the defense, reading things,” DeRozan said. “It’s a good start. We’re just going to try to continue to build on it.”

Cody Westerlund is a sports editor for 670TheScore.com and covers the Bulls. Follow him on Twitter @CodyWesterlund.