Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison began their Bulls tenure on the same day. They played Summer League ball together. Now they’re both a few weeks into a rookie season. Thing is, neither played like a rookie on Halloween night at the United Center. Chandler lost his starting spot to Jabari Parker after an awful showing against Golden State. I imagine Jim Boylen forcing Hutch to watch a continuous loop of himself allowing Stephen Curry to waltz right by him Monday. Maybe he was starstruck in the presence of the Warriors. Obviously, Gary Harris and Jamal Murray are no Steph & Klay – but either way – Hutch let it be known he wasn’t intimidated. He stripped Murray on a layup attempt, drew an offensive foul on Harris and engineered a sweet give ‘n go with his fellow rookie – and star of the game – Carter.
Nikola Jokic got the W in 108-107 in OT, thanks to a Paul Millsap putback. But Carter showed his preseason ROY hype was no joke, putting together a complete game and finishing with 25 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks. Carter continued to show his maturity on defense, refusing to fall for the Joker’s pump fakes. The Serbian Smoothie, for his part, missed a triple double by 1 assist and showed why he’s one of the best in the league. Carter seemed to earn Jokic’s respect, however. He swatted away entry passes from Harris; tipped and stole one from Jokic and battled underneath all night. His blocks were all key, including a highlight show swat that wiped out a Harris layup and an overtime block against Malik Beasley. Carter also hit a couple pressure free throws in the extra session.
Antonio Blakeney caught fire for a while in the 1st half, but Fred Hoiberg leaned away from the Shake N Blake in the 2nd half. Cameron Payne threw a gorgeous driving lob to Carter for a dunk in the 3rd. Then he got sloppy with turnovers and Ryan Arcidiacono replaced him. The tide really turned when Arch entered. The Villanova Kid loosened some balls on D and helped Zach LaVine hit NBA Jam “He’s Heating Up” mode with a couple of lead passes for a dunk and an layup. LaVine was cash again, with 28 points. As Stacey King says: “He’s a shotmaker.” Even shotmakers can have wobbly moments, though. At the end of regulation, LaVine lost the ball in almost a replay of the Detroit finish, then fumbled it again after Carter tipped it back to him in the lane. It looked like Millsap got away with a pretty brutal rake across the arms that should’ve put Zach at the line. Millsap gets a lot of calls or non-calls, if tonight is any indication. Jabari came this close to nailing a 35-footer for the win at the end of regulation. Justin Holiday hit a huge 3 in OT. The Bulls had the lead, but the ball bounced Millsap’s way. Game over. Fun one to watch, though. I’m going on Friday with 3 buddies. Can’t wait. Go Bulls.