Bulls Summer League Recap: Chicago overthrows MJ’s SummerHornets

With Mitch Kupchak, Tayshaun Prince, Metta Sandiford-Artest and LaVar Ball to watch, your Chicago Bulls deftly defeated Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets (with center Ball brother LiAngelo off the bench) Thursday night in Vegas, 89-73.

With the win, the Bulls improved their Las Vegas Summer League record to 3-1, despite boasting perhaps two or three actual NBA-caliber players on their roster.

Starting SummerBulls center Marko Simonovic got off to a warm start, getting six of Chicago’s first 10 points in as the team swapped buckets with Charlotte to kick off the first quarter. Simonovic’s offensive arsenal included a dunk and a turnaround scoop. Hornets point guard Jalen Crutcher chipped in eight of Charlotte’s first 10s.

With the score 10-10, Chicago instantly closed the frame on a 10-4 demolition to finish with a 20-14 margin heading into the second period.

Nr. 18-pick Dalen Terry continued the trend he started in Tuesday night’s Raptors victory, acting effectively as an athletic off-ball cutter and multipositional defender. Starting point guard Carlik Jones took care of the primary ball handling tasks again.

Here he proves his ability on both sides of the ball:

The Bulls began to seriously pull away from the Hornets in the second quarter, outscoring the Hornets 22-10 over the frame, largely thanks to Terry, the Windy City Bulls wing Henri Drell and, yes, fine, Malcolm Hill also helped. Hill would eventually end up with 11 points on 4-of-8 shots plus six rebounds.

The Bulls hit the locker room at halftime big, 42-24.

Chicago maintained its advantage throughout the third quarter. And soon your SummerBulls became cocky. Suddenly, Summer League MVP (not really) Marko Simonovic hit the floor and nailed tricks behind passes:

Plays a lineup of Ball on the spot, bench shooter Ty-Shon Alexander, swingman Bryce McGowens (selected as No. 40 out of Nebraska this year), power forward Brady Manek and promising center Mark Williams (15th pick in 2022 out) from Duke), Charlotte aimed to close the gap early in the fourth quarter, going on a 15-8 run to shrink Chicago’s advantage to 13. The Hornets faced a SummerBulls lineup consisting of starter Lewis plus the bench players Ethan Thompson, Sindarius Thornwell and Javon Freeman-Liberty and center Makur Maker.

But your Summer Bulls would not be denied, ladies and gentlemen. As the lead shrank, Summer League head coach John Bryant brought the four other starters (Terry, Simonovic, Hill and Carlik Jones) back to join Lewis and secure the win. Terry, Lewis and Simonovic all worked in the field of painting. Charlotte never came within the single digits of Chicago in the second half.

Perhaps most importantly, Terry finished with his best fight of the summer, scoring 20 points on a hyper-effective 8-of-12 shooting, mostly off cuts. He made both of his long-range attempts to start. He also pulled five rebounds down, snatched two steals, snatched a block and delivered an assist. He was also a defensive threat all over the floor. The Bulls’ second rookie, two-way forward Lewis, went 2-of-7 from the field for six points, but also contributed with six boards and two blocks.

Then there was Marko Simonovic. Outside of a (semi-questionable) journey, the Bulls’ 22-year-old string bean deep bench big man enjoyed another excellent overall game during his second Vegas stay. Simonovic finished with his second double-double in four games, scoring 17 points on 6-of-14 shots (5-of-7 from the line) and pulling 13 rebounds. He also handed out four dimes, including the aforementioned highlight-roll behind-the-back dish. Can he actually do this in an NBA game? It’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride for Marko in Vegas, but this was a legally strong performance.

The Bulls will play one more game to end things in Vegas on either Saturday or Sunday. While they are level at 3-1, the ugly loss to the Knicks will keep them out of the championship game.

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