The Chicago Bulls, losers of three in a row and six games of last nine, stood up and defeated the San Antonio Spurs, 95-91.
The Bulls (12-10) had an 18 point lead in the third quarter and barely held on as San Antonio rallied to make it a four point game. Pau Gasol, now with the Spurs, hit a shot from the corner that cut the lead to 88-84 with 3:24 left but Chicago stiffened and held onto the lead.
The Bulls win got them out of a somewhat alarming funk and ended the Spurs winning streak on the road. SA had won its first 13 road wins of the young season, to go to an impressive 18-4 start.
The Bulls were up for this game. Head coach Fred Hoiberg of Chicago observed after the game,
“We had a focus to us. We didn’t make any mistakes. Overall, a very strong performance by our guys.”
The Bulls had 24 assists, four more than their team average; out-rebounded SA 50-44, and out-shot the Spurs, 44% to 40% for the game. It is hard to win a road game when only hitting 40% of your shots. In the first half, the Spurs had their lowest point total of the half, 32. At one point, they had made only one of 11 long distance shots.
But the Spurs have no quit in them and they came on strong in the second half. Kawhi Leonard had a team high 24 points, Patty Mills scored 16 on some deadly treys, and former Bull, Pau Gasol, scored 13 and grabbed ten boards.
Jimmy Butler had zero points in the first half but scored 13 in the second half. He also had nine rebounds. Dwyane Wade had a team high 20 points, ever the professional. He made the right moves at the right time for the Bulls.
Rajon Rondo had a spirited effort, almost getting a triple-double. He scored 12 points, had ten rebounds, and 9 assists.
Doug McDermott returned to play after missing 11 games. He made his first three-point shot and made three big free-throws towards the end of the game to hold off the Spurs.
Video showed that Gasol first headed to the Bulls locker room then turned around and headed to the visitors locker room. It was Gasol’s first game back at the United Center as a member of the Spurs.