DeMar DeRozan, Ayo Dosunmu rally Chicago Bulls 19-point deficit to beat Boston Celtics 128-114

You can’t tell by looking at the box’s score that Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine is playing in pain.

After a strong 26-point performance against the Utah Jazz, LaVine has shown no visible signs of distress since suffering a torn left thumb ligaments a week ago.

But LaVine can feel the difference, even if it isn’t visible to the naked eye.

“I can’t shoot the same way,” he said ahead of Monday’s 128-114 win over the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. “I handle the ball and stuff like that. I’m doing everything I can to help the team. Obviously I can go play through the pain. I can still be effective in the game. But once I get my feelings back, I’ll be much happier.

It took a while for LaVine to get that feeling, so he relied on his teammates on Monday to take over. DeMar DeRozan did it early, and rookie Ayo Dosunmu was unstoppable in his first extended minutes, scoring six straight in six attempts, including a 3-pointer with 6:53 to go that topped a run of 17. -2 to erase a 14-point deficit entering the fourth quarter.

The Bulls outscored the Celtics 39-11 in the fourth after trailing 19 with 2:28 left in the third. DeRozan finished with 37 points, LaVine added 26 and Dosunmu scored 14 in 22 minutes.

In an extremely entertaining game without a switch, the Bulls couldn’t stop Celtics goalie Jaylen Brown (28 points), while the Celtics couldn’t find a way to cool DeRozan.

The late return echoed the end of Thursday’s 104-103 loss to the New York Knicks. Alex Caruso’s steal led to a Dosunmu slam alley-oop to Derrick Jones Jr., and a three-point play and a LaVine lay-in reduced the deficit to two with 8 minutes remaining. They traded blows the rest of the way.

The Bulls came out as if they were in a 3-point shooting contest with Larry Bird, hitting five 3s in their first five shots, including three by Lonzo Ball. They hit 7 of 9 3-pointers in the first quarter, but trailed 35-34, then took the lead in the second quarter with DeRozan hitting his first four shots in a 12-0 run.

But Brown hit back with a 10-point run and the Bulls calmed down, leading 67-59 at halftime despite DeRozan’s 9-of-12 shot. LaVine went 1 for 6 in the half before activating it down the stretch.

Coach Billy Donovan said it was too early to say the Bulls had established a defensive identity, but it was certainly their calling card in the first two weeks. They forced 20 turnovers against the Jazz in Saturday’s victory at United Center.

“We have been pushing a lot because of our lack of size and we will have to fend for ourselves and help each other,” Donovan said ahead of Monday’s game. “We’re not going to be able to always return people like we returned Utah. (Point guard Mike) Conley wasn’t there, in fairness to them, and that probably meant a lot to Donovan Mitchell having to score and (be a playmaker).

“I always felt like I was in college, we were in a hurry all the time. So often the attack has a lot to do with the amount of bullet that is returned. “

That said, Donovan added that the Bulls need to keep working on their rebound; they came second to last when entering on Monday.

“I just don’t think in this league you can be one-dimensional, where you’re a great defensive team but you’re just really poor offensively or vice versa,” he said. “You have to be both. And it’s early and we always find our way, being young. But we have to be better defensively.

The absence of Patrick Williams, victim of a dislocated left wrist that will force him to miss four to six months, is a problem that a player cannot solve. The Bulls received contributions from everyone on Monday, including Dosunmu and Jones on the bench.

“We just have to try to find the places where he would help us,” Caruso said of Williams. “He’s a very good additional offensive player for us. He probably had one of his best offensive games after coming back, that game (against the Knicks) where he got injured. It was a real shame.

“His defense is a quick little forward, a big winger who faced Julius Randle, Jayson Tatum, guys like that. So we’re going to have to do a better job of helping each other in defense. He will be sorely missed in this area, and his rebound has really benefited us too. “

The Bulls will eventually get guard Coby White back, but not in the immediate future. White is starting to work with the player development staff in controlled situations, although it is not clear when he will be allowed to start training.

“He’s at least making some contact so it’s encouraging,” Donovan said. “As long as it responds well, the next step after that would be to put it into practice. From now until when it happens, I’m not 100% sure.

No matter how this season goes, LaVine said on Monday that it was the most enjoyable part of his career.

“From afar,” he said. “Mainly because people know about the difficulties that I had in my career and that I got off to a good start like this with a team that we know to be really competitive, we all stick together and have a very close-knit team. and have all glued well.

“This is the most fun I have had.”

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