The last time the Chicago Bulls and the Charlotte Hornets met — which was just last Tuesday — the Bulls were embarrassed in a 130-105 loss. But, on Friday night, they avenged themselves by taking the 102-97 victory in a tight game.
The Hornets got on the scoreboard first with Marvin Williams knocking down a three to open the game, but the Bulls took the 6-5 lead early on. Afterwards, though, Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum found their rhythm, giving their team the 15-11 lead. Doug McDermott responded with a three-point play, but the Hornets would maintain the lead.
Soon afterwards, though, both teams would fall into an offensive drought. In the last three minutes of the first quarter, both teams combined for just five total points, but it would be enough for them to end the period with a 23-23 tie.
The Bulls took control in the second quarter, though.
A pair of threes from McDermott and E’Twaun Moore and a jumper from Taj Gibson gave the Bulls the slim 31-30 lead. They then went on a 7-0 run for an eight-point lead, 38-30, thus forcing the Hornets to take a timeout. And that timeout worked, but only somewhat.
The Hornets scored 12 points coming out of their timeout, but the Bulls hadn’t gone anywhere. The Bulls scored nine points of their own and went on to take the 50-46 lead going into halftime. The third quarter, however, was just about the opposite for them.
In the second quarter, the Bulls outscored the Hornets 27-23, but they were outscored by the Hornets 29-23 in the third quarter.
Williams opened the third quarter in the same fashion he opened the game with: making a three-pointer. His quick three pushed the Bulls’ lead back down to one, but it would be a while until the lead changed teams. It wasn’t until the 5:03 mark of the third, when Nicolas Batum made a free throw, that the Hornets finally got the lead after remaining so close to the Bulls throughout the period.
Once the Hornets got the lead, the game really tightened up, and both teams started to go at it. The Bulls tied the game at 70 for a brief period thanks to Jimmy Butler, who scored 12 points in the third. But it didn’t last long, and the Bulls couldn’t even come away with the lead. A pair of free throws from Kemba Walker and a three-pointer from Lisle, Illinois-native Frank Kaminsky put the Hornets back on top, 75-73, to finish out the third quarter.
The Bulls were quick to open the fourth quarter, though. They went on a 9-0 run at the start to take the 82-77 lead that forced a Hornets timeout. That lead was then extended into a 11-0 run that was stopped by the Hornets soon afterward with a combined 10 points from Jeremy Lamb, Jeremy Lin and Walker. Suddenly, the score was separated by just a point, 88-87 with the Bulls ahead, yet again.
The Bulls played aggressively from there, getting to the free throw line and, more importantly, making their free throws to finish off the game with a win.
Butler led the Bulls in scoring with 27 points (8-16 FG, 0-4 3PT, 11-14 FT). He also added five rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block in 38 minutes. Pau Gasol followed with a double-double of 19 points (7-13 FG, 5-5 FT) and 13 rebounds to go along with three assists and two blocks. Joakim Noah added 18 rebounds and six assists off the bench.
The Bulls will play again on Monday at home to face Central Divison foe, the Indiana Pacers, at 7 p.m. central.
Ashley is the owner/editor of The Bulls Charge. Follow her on Twitter at @wijangco12.