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Double overtime win, including a 74-rebound showing


The Chicago Bulls are taking back the boards and reasserting themselves as a physically competitive team in the process.

The Bulls grabbed 74 rebounds in their double-overtime victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, the most in the NBA since 2015. And the team’s 25 offensive rebounds led to a season-high 32 points on second-chance opportunities.

This effort on the glass was assisted by centers Andre Drummond and Nikola Vučević. The duo returns to a massive lineup that was mostly a stopgap measure for the Bulls due to injuries – but Wednesday’s rotation showed how the duo can flex their muscles against opponents in the paint.

“The math is very simple,” Drummond said. “You’ve got two guys who are very good at rebounding. One of them is the best guy to do it historically, and the other one is right behind me. That makes it very difficult for teams. They have to make a decision who they’re going to try to block, me or him? They have to pick their poison.”

The Cavaliers became the first team to leave those two big rosters out of coach Billy Donovan, challenging the Bulls with a big-man rotation of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen.

Wednesday’s result was an old-school look for both teams; Two sets of fairly conventional big men battle it out like a Godzilla shot in the paint, slamming into each other and backing into the post to dominate the block. This time the Bulls took the upper hand.

“It kind of reminded me of the 2010s,” Drummond said. “Two big guys in the paint, just keeping going. It was a very tough, very physical match. “I’m glad the referees let us play.”

Photos: Chicago Bulls 132, Cleveland Cavaliers 123 (2OT)

Here are seven more takeaways from the win.

1. DeMar DeRozan is shutting down once again.

Jarrett Allen should have known better.

There are few things in the NBA as cold-bloodedly assured as DeMar DeRozan biting a player on a pump fake. Veterans, rookies, it doesn’t matter; DeRozan does not discriminate.

So when DeRozan threw the ball toward his forehead with his toes behind the arc and 12 seconds left in the first overtime, Allen should have known better than to stand up.

But Allen jumped in instead. Communication followed. The referee blew his whistle. DeRozan made three free throws without hesitation. And in that game the momentum swung in the Bulls’ favor.

DeRozan clinched the game for the Bulls by scoring 16 points in overtime, going 3-for-7 from the field and 9-for-10 from the free throw line. He led the Bulls with 35 points in the win.

2. Carrying heavy loads.

Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan scores a double in overtime past Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024, at the United Center. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)

After back-to-back games against the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday and the Cavaliers on Wednesday, the minutes are starting to add up for Coby White and DeMar DeRozan.

White logged 91 minutes between the two matches; 50 minutes of that was against the Cavaliers and 41 minutes against the Pistons. DeRozan logged 89 minutes, 49 against the Cavaliers and 40 against the Pistons. The duo leads the NBA in total minutes played this season. With injuries still affecting the Bulls roster, this trend is unlikely to change by the close of the regular season.

3. Ayo Dosunmu ended his shooting slump.

Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu (12) rises toward the basket for an easy two points in the first half against the Cavaliers at the United Center in Chicago on Feb. 28, 2024.  (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)
Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu drives to the basket in the first half against the Cavaliers on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024, at the United Center. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)

Ayo Dosunmu, who broke out as one of the leading shooters on the Bulls’ roster this season, emerged from the All-Star break a little rusty, going 0-for-5 from 3-point range and 5-for-17 from 3-point range on Tuesday against Detroit. From behind the arc in the last three games.

However, after another somewhat slow start, Dosunmu recovered from his slump against the Cavaliers and went 4-for-9 to score 21 points in the victory.

4. But Coby White is still stuck.

The same couldn’t be said for Coby White, who continued his cold shooting streak with a 2-for-13 performance on Wednesday.

White finished with 14 points on 5-of-20 shooting from the field, as he struggled to reposition his 3-point shots. He’s 8-of-36 from beyond the arc since the All-Star break.

5. Onuralp Bitim is making a splash.

Bulls forward Onuralp Bitim (17) takes a shot off Cavaliers guard Max Strus (1) on defense in the first half at the United Center in Chicago on February 28, 2024.  (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)
Bulls forward Onuralp Bitim takes a shot at Cavaliers guard Max Strus while defending in the first half at the United Center on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)

Rookie Onuralp Bitim, who was effective on the bench in his first serious minutes in the NBA, gave morale to the Bulls.

The front office converted Bitim from a two-way contract to a guaranteed deal, instead of selecting him from the buyout market. At the time, the 24-year-old Turkish player had only played six minutes for the Bulls, but he impressed with his energy and three-point accuracy while playing for the Windy City Bulls in the G League.

Bitim scored his first basket in the NBA with 6 rebounds and 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting in 27 minutes.

6. Alex Caruso was out of action due to his knee injury.


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