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Jan 13, 2024 11:24 pm

Nikola Vucevic’s double-double lifts Bulls past Spurs

Nikola Vucevic racked up 24 points and 16 rebounds that included a huge 3-pointer with 31.7 seconds to play as the visiting Chicago Bulls outlasted the San Antonio Spurs 122-116 on Saturday in the second game of a back-to-back for both teams.

The Bulls, back on the court after a loss at home to Golden State on Friday, led by eight points at halftime and by 18 midway through the third quarter before San Antonio rallied to tie the game at 94 heading into the final period.

The Spurs’ late third-quarter push continued into the fourth, when they built a 109-103 lead. Chicago responded with a 13-4 surge to regain the lead and made all the plays down the stretch, holding San Antonio to just three points over the final 4:27 of the game.

Ayo Dosunmu added 21 points for the Bulls, with DeMar DeRozan scoring 20, Coby White hitting for 15, Jevon Carter contributing 14 and Alex Caruso and Zach LaVine tallying 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Tre Jones led the Spurs with a career-high 30 points while Keldon Johnson had 26, Malaki Branham scored 14 and Jeremy Sochan hit for 11 points. San Antonio, which was playing for the second straight night after beating Charlotte on Friday, was without rookie phenom Victor Wembanyama (rest) and key reserve Doug McDermott (right ankle sprain).

The Bulls led for all but a few minutes of the opening quarter, using a 9-0 run highlighted by a 3-pointer by Caruso to turn a game tied at 16 into a 25-16 advantage at the 3:21 mark. A free throw by Andre Drummond with 28.4 seconds left gave Chicago a 35-23 lead after 12 minutes of play.

Chicago expanded its lead to as many as 15 points after Drummond’s reverse layup with 8:21 to play in the second period. The Spurs clawed back to within four when Branham scored on a finger-roll with 47.3 seconds left but Chicago got a jumper from DeRozan and then a pullup jumper by Dosunmu at the buzzer to take a 63-55 edge into the break.

Dosunmu and Carter led the Bulls with 11 points each before halftime while DeRozan added 10. Jones led all scorers with 22 points in the first half.

It was the third game between San Antonio and Chicago this season, a rarity created by the teams’ winless performance in the NBA’s inaugural in-season tournament.

–Field Level Media

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