Dosunmu, Drummond step up to give Bulls much-needed win

Bulls guard Alex Caruso left Thursday's game against Charlotte with a right foot sprain after just playing seven minutes.

Caruso got off to a fast start, by scoring 7 points and stringing together the dirty-work plays he's known for. But once Caruso left, the Bulls found a new hustle leader in backup center Andre Drummond.

On a night of unlikely team leaders, Drummond piled up 15 points and 11 rebounds in just 15 minutes of action as the Bulls beat the Hornets 114-98 at the United Center. Ayo Dosunmu led the Bulls in scoring for the first time in his career with 22 points, while Coby White added 20.

It was just the second time this season DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine or Nikola Vucevic wasn't the Bulls' sole leading scorer. The first occurrence was the first time Charlotte was in town on Nov. 2, with Javonte Green the top scorer.

"It was a unique night for us," Drummond said. "We're used to having our main three guys having 20, 30 points a night, but it was cool to see everybody else get a feel and have fun while we're out there. It was a great game."

Drummond has fallen out of the rotation in recent weeks as coach Billy Donovan preferred playing a small lineup featuring Derrick Jones Jr. Drummond sat out five of the previous eight games and hadn't played as many as 10 minutes since Jan. 9 at Boston.

"The stuff I can control is being a good teammate, working on my game, staying in shape and being prepared when my number's called," he said. "When you focus on the stuff you can't control, that's when you start getting into that dark place. I'm just here to be a good teammate, and when my number's called, I'm ready to go."

A former top-10 pick of the Detroit Pistons, Drummond is used to starting and playing heavy minutes. At the same time, he knew what he was getting into by signing with the Bulls as a free agent. Logic suggested he would back up Vucevic.

"Am I OK with it? I'm never OK with it," Drummond said. "At the end of the day, I'm a basketball player. I want to play. But the circumstances I'm in, I have to work my way back to where I want to get to, so there's certain routes I have to take to get there.

"Me being a good teammate and showing guys I'm here to do whatever it takes to help this team win is what's going to help me get there."

The Hornets keep size on the floor with 7-foot-1 rookie Mark Williams backing up Mason Plumlee. Drummond battled them both and piled up 15 points and 11 rebounds in 15 minutes of action. Drummond worked so hard, he got an ovation from fans seated near the Bulls bench when he was subbed out in the second quarter.

"He's been great," Donovan said. "For a guy who's been in this league as long as he's has and has had the success he's had, he's a competitive guy. He wants to be out there."

When these teams met in Charlotte last week, the Bulls (24-27) were outscored 64-41 in the second half and lost by 15. They seemed to learn from past mistakes in this one, opening the third quarter with a 10-0 run to pull ahead 63-49. But the Hornets came right back with 7 straight points.

The Bulls led by 17 late in the third quarter and were still up by 12 with 6:18 remaining after a Patrick Williams 3-pointer. Not long after, Williams came up limping and left the game with a right ankle sprain.

"I'm not really sure if I stepped on a foot or what, but I kind of tweaked it a little bit there," Williams said. "Dealt with a lot worse. As long as I can walk, I'll be out there."

The Hornets got within 7 a couple of times. The Bulls caught a break in the final minutes when LaMelo Ball had a fast break, but lost the ball while going up for the shot. LaVine was credited with a block, but replays appeared to confirm what Ball told the referees, that LaVine hit Ball's elbow, not the ball. Lonzo's younger brother was ejected when he didn't stop arguing the call.

DeRozan finished with 15 points and 7 assists, LaVine had 10, while Vucevic produced 17 points, and 12 rebounds.

Before the game, DeRozan found out he was chosen as an Eastern Conference all-star reserve. The Bulls sent rookie Dalen Terry, who DeRozan jokingly refers to as his son, out to the court with a microphone to share the news. DeRozan was warming up at the time and Terry vowed to become a seven-time all-star to beat DeRozan's achievement.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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Chicago Bulls' Ayo Dosunmu (12) drives past Charlotte Hornets' LaMelo Ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, in Chicago. Associated Press
Chicago Bulls' DeMar DeRozan, center, shoots over Charlotte Hornets' Gordon Hayward, left, during the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, in Chicago. Associated Press
Chicago Bulls' Coby White (0) scores past Charlotte Hornets' Mark Williams (5) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, in Chicago. Associated Press
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