The two teams played a very back and forth first half. There were eight ties and 12 lead changes in the game’s first 24 minutes. PJ Washington came off the bench to hit five first half 3-pointers to join Terry Rozier with 15 first half points apiece. Nikola Vucevic, DeMar DeRozan, and Alex Caruso were all hitting from the midrange for the Bulls. The Bulls closed the half on a 9-0 run as Jalen McDaniels missed three straight shots on the Hornets final three possessions to take a 69-58 lead into the break.
Terry Rozier and the Hornets started the second half well offensively, but they couldn’t get any stops defensively to make the most of it. The offense eventually went cold but the defense continued to be putrid. The Bulls cruised out to a 20 point lead by the 4:29 mark of the third quarter. The margin was 19 by the start of the fourth quarter.
DeMar DeRozan made an 18 foot jumper on the Bulls first possession of the quarter. From the end of the first quarter to that shot, the Bulls were 29-of-42 from the field (69%). Gordon Hayward scored 10 straight points and then LaMelo Ball made a tough driving layup to pull the Hornets within eight, and Ball found Hayward on a nice cut a short while later to get the Hornets within four and force a Bulls timeout. The Bulls scored nine straight points out of the timeout to take back a lot of the ground the Hornets had made up. The teams were pretty much even the rest of the way, but that didn’t help the Hornets. They gave up over 130 points for the second game in a row.
Just like on Saturday, the Hornets defense was lackluster early on. They turned it up late, but the Bulls, and DeMar DeRozan in particular, were feeling it. DeRozan hit some impossible midrange jumpers while Nikola Vucevic wasn’t even drawing iron on his jump shots.
LaMelo won the individual match-up against Lonzo with 18 points, 13 assists, and seven rebounds. Hayward scored 22, most of that coming in the second half, while Kelly Oubre scored 18 off the bench.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Hornets. Up next is a trip to Milwaukee to take on a well rested Bucks team that has won seven straight games.