Nikola Vucevic Singles Out Key Improvement After Bulls Beat Warriors

Nikola Vucevic, Chicago Bulls

Getty Nikola Vucevic #9 of the Chicago Bulls.

The Chicago Bulls notched their first win in the Bay Area since 2009 with a 125-122 victory over the Golden State Warriors on March 7.

They extended their lead over the Atlanta Hawks for ninth place in the Eastern Conference standings. Perhaps more importantly, they overcame a 13-point Warriors lead and a fourth-quarter comeback to secure the win.

“Golden State wants to play fast, they want to get out in transition. And we felt like we kind of started playing their game, and that doesn’t suit us,” Nikola Vucevic said via the Chicago Tribune’s Julia Poe after the game. “So we’re just talking about slowing down, taking our time, making the right reads.

“We got a couple turnovers, we got a little careless, and we let them get back into the game.”

DeMar DeRozan ended a 9-2 run by the host Warriors and proceeded to plead with his teammates to settle down after they surrendered the lead in the third quarter and found themselves trailing.

“I think one thing we also got better at as a team is when somebody says something, to respond the right way, and listen and adjust,” Vucevic said. “It showed tonight.”

DeRozan and Vucevic each finished the game with 33 points.

Vucevic added 11 rebounds – giving him his third straight double-double and his 12th in the last 15 games – and five assists. He is tied with Indiana Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton with 26 double-doubles this season.

The two-time All-Star is averaging 21.7 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 2.9 assists over the last 15 games.

Steve Kerr Praises DeMar DeRozan

DeRozan and Vucevic alternated big quarters in the first half for the Bulls, who have won five of their last seven outings. But they split the scoring workload fairly evenly after the break. That is until it was crunch time and the Bulls turned to the most reliable option in those situations.

DeRozan scored five of the Bulls’ final seven points, including a three-point play that put the Bulls up by two points with 26 seconds to go.

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr offered lofty praise for DeRozan in the aftermath.

“Give them credit. DeMar made the end one, I thought that was the key shot in the closing few minutes,” Kerr said during his postgame presser. “We got to tighten up defensively and execute better. But he made the shot, and give him credit.

“DeMar is one of the great closers in the game. He has been for 10 years.”

Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic, & Coby White Dominating Clutch Minutes, Plus-Minus

Vucevic scored the other two points to close out the hard-fought victory, with both also coming on free throws. Coby White and Jevon Carter were the only Bulls players besides DeRozan or Vucevic to hit a field goal in the fourth quarter.

The Bulls trio of DeRozan, Vucevic, and White all sit atop the total clutch plus-minus leaderboard, per

They also lead the way in clutch minutes, though, followed by Alex Caruso with the fourth most.

It’s not as much of a concern for the 24-year-old White. But DeRozan and Vucevic are both on the wrong side of 30. They have both been durable. But that doesn’t mean the Bulls want to put that much wear on them down the stretch.

There are still hopes for an extended stay in the postseason. They are 6.0 games out of 11th place, which would knock them out of the Play-In Tournament field.