HEADLINE

Bulls eye elusive third win, take on struggling Hornets

Field Level Media

December 06, 2023 at 12:53 am.

The Chicago Bulls will try to extend their first winning streak of the 2023-24 season Wednesday when the Charlotte Hornets visit for an Eastern Conference matchup.

Chicago put together consecutive wins for the first time of the campaign, following up a 120-113 overtime defeat of Milwaukee last Thursday with a 124-118 victory against New Orleans on Saturday.

The first of those back-to-back wins snapped a five-game losing skid for the Bulls.

Coby White scored a season-high 31 points against New Orleans while tying a career high with eight made 3-pointers — one game removed from matching his previous season high of 23 points vs. Milwaukee — and hauled in a season-best nine rebounds.

White also dished six assists against the Pelicans, complementing DeMar DeRozan in his 24-point, 10-assist double-double.

“Early on I was struggling with my shot, the first 12 games or so,” White told NBC Sports Chicago in a postgame interview on Saturday. “The coaching staff and my teammates, they trust me. They find me when I’m open. If I don’t shoot it, I get cussed out, so may as well shoot it.”

White opened the season averaging 11.4 points in the Bulls’ first 13 games and did not reach 20 points in any contest. Over the past eight games, White scored 20.9 points per game with five outings of 20-plus points.

He will look to keep his hot streak rolling on Wednesday against a Charlotte defense ranked near the bottom of the league in both points allowed per contest and opponent 3-point percentage.

The Hornets have surrendered 122.2 points per contest (26th in the NBA entering Tuesday’s games) and 38.5 percent shooting from beyond the 3-point arc (27th). They’re coming off a 123-117 defeat to Minnesota on Saturday.

Terry Rozier scored 23 points for his third game notching at least 22 since returning from a nine-game absence due to a groin injury.

Rozier went for 37 points and 13 rebounds last Thursday in a 129-128 win at Brooklyn, Charlotte’s lone victory in the last four outings.

Miles Bridges added 23 points against the Nets and 22 points in the loss to Minnesota.

Bridges has posted three double-doubles and is averaging 20.5 points with seven rebounds per game since rejoining the Hornets lineup on Nov. 17.

Although Charlotte re-added Rozier and Bridges to its rotation, the Hornets played the first week of an uncertain period of time without LaMelo Ball.

Ball suffered a right ankle sprain Nov. 26 that The Athletic reported will keep the guard out for “an extended time.”

While looking to replace Ball’s perimeter production – team bests of 24.7 points and 8.2 assists per game — Charlotte is also trying to improve its play on the interior.

Specifically, Hornets coach Steve Clifford cited points from offensive rebounds allowed as critical to the team’s defensive struggles.

“We’re not physical enough. We get out-worked on the glass,” Clifford said in Saturday’s postgame news conference. “They had 22 second-chance points. One of the reasons our defensive numbers are so bad is that. Thirty-one in Brooklyn. Twenty-two today.

“So when you’re watching the film and you’re trying to figure out what’s the problem: That’s the problem.”