The Bulls are back (from France), now the schedule gets busy

At the start of the Bulls' trip to Paris, DeMar DeRozan sat on the plane, seated next to Dalen Terry, and introduced the rookie forward to the Instagram audience as, "his little baby."

Well, now that the team is back in town, did his parenting have a positive effect?

"Yeah, he's been a headache," DeRozan said with a laugh. "It's like the Terrible Twos. That's where he's at right now. He's definitely a Terrible Two right now. But I'm trying my best."

Asked his favorite part of the Paris trip, Zach LaVine suggested the questioner take a guess.

Something to do with wine, maybe?

"Exactly, a bunch of Bordeauxes," he said. "I took like five of them home."

So the Bulls are back (from Paris), but right away they'll have to pay the price for their French excursion, which featured one game in seven days. Now the schedule gets busy. They'll tip it off with a set of back-to-back games, home against Atlanta on Monday, then at Indiana on Tuesday.

The Bulls will play 14 games in 25 days until the all-star break. And according to coach Billy Donovan, the trip to France didn't exactly feel like a vacation with all the travel and obligations.

"It was a nine-hour trip coming back, going through customs," Donovan said. "Then you're playing a nine o'clock game (last Thursday). The trip from the arena back to the hotel was probably 40 minutes maybe and thank God we had a police escort. That was the one thing that was nice about getting around Paris."

Donovan held short practices Saturday and Sunday at the Advocate Center to help get the players back on schedule. Goran Dragic missed Sunday's workout due to an illness.

Busy schedule or not, it's time for the Bulls to make a stand. Even with all the frustrating losses, they're just 3½ games out of the No. 6 seed in the East, they've gone 10-6 since the ugly loss in Minnesota on Dec. 18, and an easier stretch of opponents awaits.

Is LaVine ready for this? He missed games early in the season while returning from offseason knee surgery. Lately, though, he's averaged 27.7 points in this 16-game upswing, while scoring at least 30 points six times.

"I'm more than fine," LaVine said Sunday at the Advocate Center. "I've played every game since the beginning of the season, so I've played just as many games pretty much as anyone on the team."

LaVine has played 41 of 45 games, one of six Bulls to take the court in at least 40. Nikola Vucevic and Patrick Williams are the only two to play in every game.

Another task is to keep building the improved chemistry. LaVine, DeRozan and Vucevic are playing as well together as they ever have. All three have raised their season-long scoring averages during this 16-game stretch.

"We're getting it going at the right time," DeRozan said. "We still feel like we can get a lot better. Coach always said it, always challenged us every single day that it starts with us.

"We've been taking on that challenge every single day whether it's practice or film. And we try to carry that over to the game."

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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Bulls Partrick Williams, center, dunks during the NBA basketball game between Bulls and Pistons on Thursday. The Bulls are back in town and now face 14 games in the next 25 days, beginning with Atlanta on Monday at the United Center. They could be in good shape, though, if the improving chemistry between the three stars continues. Associated Press
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