Words by Joshua M. Hicks
Newly acquired point guard and West Side native Patrick Beverly did not waste any time providing much needed help in the Bulls first victory post All-Star break. Their 131-87 win snapped a six-game losing streak, pushing the team in the right direction toward a potential playoff push and its safe to say the Beverly era has officially begun.
More importantly, the addition of Beverly opens doors for the veteran leadership the team needs in the backcourt, a necessity for young guards like Ayo Dosumnu and Coby White’s continued growth and development.
In recent games on the court, the Bulls often had slow starts and low energy, constantly leading to the team having to play from behind. Normally, these negative consistencies led to bad defense with slow rotations and a lack of urgency.
Last night, was a different story. They played 48 minutes of complete basketball.
Unlike previous trends, the Bulls started the game strong with an 11-0 run, led by the defensive efforts of Alex Caruso and Beverly.
The defensive tenacity carried the Bulls in holding the Nets to shooting 29 percent from the field and 18 percent from the 3-point line in the first quarter, while a 54 percent shooting outburst combined brought the team a 15-point lead to end the first quarter, 33-18.
Efforts on both ends of the floor continued into halftime, with the Bulls taking their lead to as high as 35 points and forcing 8 turnovers along the way. Zach LaVine led the team with 18 first half points, while the team finished with a 63-29 lead at halftime.
The Nets’ 29 first half points marks the fewest points the Bulls allowed in a first half since 2014 against the Washington Wizards, while the Nets’ first half shooting of 24 percent is the lowest shooting percentage the Bulls allowed since 2013 against the Atlanta Hawks.
The Bulls did not lift their foot off the gas pedal heading into the second half. The team continued to build on the offensive foundation they laid in the first half behind the offensive efforts of DeMar DeRozan and LaVine.
Brooklyn continued to struggle and the Bulls continued to dominate to victory, having the largest lead of the game and season at 50 points and holding the Nets to 37 percent shooting from the field and 28 percent from the 3-point line.
Beverly set the stage for a stronger starting lineup, especially in the point guard position. But his presence also increased the depth on the bench and created opportunities in the second unit for Ayo Dosumnu. This adjustment is a change that head coach Billy Donovan embraces.
“Ayo and Coby complement each other so I like the fact that now they are playing together in the second unit,” Donovan said. “It’s been great.”
But the adjustment is what those guys need to develop just enough to help push the Bulls in getting back into the playoff picture.
Beverly understands that, knowing that in order for the team to continue developing and winning in the immediate future, he has to take on the responsibility of installing confidence in the young guys, which is something he relishes doing.
“You got to give the younger players a ton of confidence,” Beverley said. “They are going to have their growing pains. I’ve been in the league 11 years and I still have mine, but it’s about giving the young guys confidence.”
White felt the confidence Beverley was bringing to the game. He is embracing his new experience by soaking up all the knowledge he can from Beverly to not just grow as a player, but impact winning basketball.
“[Beverley’s] real vocal,” White said. “That’s what I can take away from being with him, especially his knowledge of the game, since he’s been doing this for a long time. I take everything as a learning opportunity.”