CHICAGO – Nikola Vucevic could be playing for another team by the end of the week. The same goes for Andre Drummond as the NBA's trade deadline approaches.
Despite big questions about their futures, the big men delivered in a big way for the Chicago Bulls on Monday night.
Vucevic had 22 points and 12 rebounds, Drummond set season highs with 21 points and 15 rebounds, and Chicago handed San Antonio its ninth straight loss, beating the Spurs 128-104.
“I never take this game lightly,” Drummond said. “I appreciate every moment that I am on that floor. I don’t take those moments lightly. When I get that chance, I just try to play as hard as I can and give it all I have.”
Zach LaVine scored 20 points and DeMar DeRozan had 19, helping the Bulls match a season high with their third straight win. Chicago (26-27) also got some payback for a loss at San Antonio in October.
It was tied at 85 late in the third quarter when Chicago went on a 23-3 run that buried the team with the second-worst record in the Western Conference. Two more losses and the Spurs will match their worst skid of the season.
With his second double-double in three games after being used sparingly, Drummond continued to make his case for more playing time. The two-time All-Star had three steals in 21 minutes and scored 10 points in Chicago's game-breaking burst, including back-to-back dunks that delighted the crowd.
“It says a lot about him,” said Vucevic, whom the Bulls might deal rather than risk losing as a free agent after this season. “It shows how truly professional he is. When you're not playing, when you're not in the rotation, sometimes it's harder to stay focused. He's been doing that this season.”
DeRozan started the decisive run with a three-point play and step-back jumper in the final minute of the third, giving the Bulls a five-point lead.
Chicago had seven players score in double figures and shot 56.2% despite making just 6 of 22 3-pointers. It was the Bulls' fourth win in five games overall.
Keldon Johnson led San Antonio with 21 points. But the Spurs opened a season-high, nine-game trip on an all-too-familiar note.
The Bulls led by 11 after the first quarter, only to have San Antonio get back into the game in the second. The Spurs led by four late in the third, before the Bulls steadied themselves.
DeRozan's spurt at the end of the quarter helped give the Bulls the spark they needed.
Coby White kept it going when he hit two free throws and fed Drummond for dunk after stealing a pass in the opening minute of the fourth. Doug McDermott hit a 3 for San Antonio, but the Bulls outscored the Spurs 38-19 in the quarter.
Spurs: San Antonio had won four of five against Chicago. ... F Jeremy Sochan (sore lower back) and G Tre Jones (sore left foot) missed their second consecutive game.
Bulls: The Bulls' 39 first-quarter points were one shy of their season high. ... G Alex Caruso (sore left foot) missed his second straight game. Chicago's best perimeter defender was injured in Thursday's 114-98 victory over Charlotte. “He's shown some significant strides in a very positive direction,” coach Billy Donovan said.
Spurs: Visit Toronto on Wednesday.
Bulls: Visit Memphis on Tuesday.
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