Bulls dominate Nets as Beverley paves way for Donovan double-switch

The Bulls locker room was in an exuberant mood Friday. For example, when newcomer Patrick Beverley got a little carried away in describing Billy Donovan's coaching talents, DeMar DeRozan yelled out from across the room.

"Yeah, I ain't not the only one that cusses in interviews now," DeRozan joked.

With Beverley ready for action, Donovan made a double-switch for Friday's game against Brooklyn at the United Center.

He not only started Beverley, but also Alex Caruso, while Ayo Dosunmu and Patrick Williams slid over to bench roles.

It made sense. The Bulls front office spent three first-round picks to bring in veterans DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic. So why match two 30-somethings in win-now mode with a couple of NBA newbies still struggling with growing pains?

This lineup may not work as well as it did Friday ever again, but it was a great start as the Bulls dominated the Nets from start to finish, 131-87. Zach LaVine took Beverley's advice to shoot more, finishing with a game-high 32 points.

"I talked to DeMar and Zach before the game," Beverley said. "My job is not hoisting a lot of shots. My job is to make sure we stay in steady offense, make sure the key guys get the ball where they need to go.

"I just tried to make the game easy for Zach, make sure he didn't have to do a ton of dribbling and make sure DeMar catched it in his spots. We were fortunate to do that today."

The Nets traded away Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving before the deadline, but ended up with two of the NBA's best wing defenders in Mikal Bridges and Dorian Finney-Smith. Heading into this game, it was logical to think those two could make life difficult for LaVine and DeRozan, but that didn't happen at all. LaVine hit 12 of 17 shots from the field, while DeRozan made 8 of 17 for 17 points.

"He did a great job," LaVine said of Beverley. "Obviously you know what he does from a vocal standpoint and an energy standpoint, but running the team he did a good job. He was pushing the pace, creating easier shots and then taking advantage. It was a great first game."

The Bulls starters jumped out to a 14-2 lead and it never got much closer.

For most of the night, this game was providing flashbacks to Game 3 of the 1998 NBA Finals, when the Bulls inexplicably trounced Utah 96-54.

The Bulls led the Nets 63-29 at halftime. It was the lowest point total in the first half by a Bulls opponent since April 5, 2014 (when Washington scored 26) and the worst field-goal percentage (.244) in the first half since Jan. 14, 2013 against Atlanta.

"When you've got a guy like Pat Beverley on the team, the intensity he comes with, the energy he brings, you've got to follow behind that," DeRozan said.

Donovan wouldn't commit to using the same starters when the Bulls return to action Sunday afternoon against Washington.

"We're going to see. I didn't know what it would look like, I just felt our team needed a jolt, so to speak," he said. "I thought our effort to contest and get out there and challenge shots and try to make it difficult was good."

Having a veteran point guard was a nice addition for the Bulls, but energy and vocal leadership is what Beverley, a Chicago native, has always been known for.

"His talk is really uplifting, it's inspiring, it's positive," Donovan said. "If he's getting on players at all, if you want to use that word, it's lifting them up. The enthusiasm and the energy comes across very positive, but he's always upbeat. He's always energized and trying to get guys going. That's what he does.

"It's not over the top, where it's like nonstop, it's not that. He's been around a long time, he knows where his spots are. He was great tonight. Forget about him in between the lines. Just him out there and his spirit was great."

Goran Dragic sat out Friday with a knee issue, while Terry Taylor made his Bulls debut by playing the final four minutes. Patrick Williams contributed 17 points off the bench, while rookie Dalen Terry went 3-for-3 from 3-point range in the fourth quarter.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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