The Chicago Bulls were in dire need of a victory and got one on Monday at the expense of the reigning Eastern Conference champions Boston Celtics, 121-107. Here are three takeaways from the game that once again showed why Chicago is capable of contending in the East.
Nikola Vucevic feasted
With the Celtics flaunting an undersized frontcourt led by Al Horford, Bulls center Nikola Vucevic took advantage of the mismatch. The former Magic standout scored 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting, grabbed 13 rebounds, and dished out six assists in 35 minutes of play.
Vucevic was aggressive from start to finish, which paid off for him and his team. He was also active on defense and helped hold Horford scoreless throughout his 35-minute stint.
Goran Dragic exits and returns
For a while, reserve guard Goran Dragic had his teammates and fans worried as he exited the first quarter due to a shoulder injury. But following a quick examination by the team doctors, he was cleared to return after what head coach Billy Donovan described as a "stinger," wherein the veteran was hit in the neck and experienced numbness in his arm and elbow afterward.
"When he came back in, I just didn't think he looked right to me, and that was my decision," Donovan said of the 36-year-old who finished scoreless in season-low seven minutes of action. "I did not ask him. I think he would have continued to play."
LaVine bounces back
It was not the explosive performance many had hoped for, especially after his 1-of-14 outing last time. However, Zach LaVine did play much better and finished with 22 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Most importantly, LaVine scored nine points in the final can to help close out the Celtics and prove to many — including his coach — that he deserves to be out on the floor when it counts the most.
The Bulls' road trip begins on Wednesday when they head to Milwaukee to face off against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks.