Not as easy this time, but Bulls stay unbeaten in preseason
They're not all going to be 40-point blowouts. So after a couple of easy breezes to open preseason, it was surely to the Bulls' benefit that they got tested in Cleveland on Sunday.
The Bulls didn't shoot the ball like they did in the first two contests, but pulled out a 102-101 victory thanks to a pair of baskets by rookie guard Ayo Dosunmu in the final 41 seconds.
The first bucket was a driving bank that he got past 7-foot-5 Tacko Fall, giving the Bulls a 1-point lead. Then Dosunmu hit a pullup in the lane to put it away. The former Illini star scored 9 points in just 7 minutes.
"He doesn't have any fear at all," Zach LaVine said of Dosunmu. "Asks a whole bunch of questions. He's probably asked more questions than any rookie I've been around, on and off the court subjects. So he wants to learn. The dude is stone cold. He pretty much won us the game."
Another standout among the reserves was 6-7 forward Alize Johnson, who finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds and had to guard Fall down the stretch.
Johnson isn't someone you would look at and call an imposing presence. But in all three preseason games, the former Brooklyn Net has been all over the glass. He's pulled down 31 rebounds in the three contests, most on the team.
"A guy like Alize, I've got great respect for him, because he's in there with Tacko Fall battling his tail off," coach Billy Donovan said. "He's in there against (Evan) Mobley and Jarrett Allen and (you say), 'How's this guy come down with rebounds?' He's just got this tenacious, tenacious attitude about him. You have to account for him. He's just so aggressive, he's a quick jumper."
DeMar DeRozan led the Bulls with 23 points, followed by Johnson with 14 and LaVine with 14. The Bulls shot 42% as a team and finished with 18 assists, well below their previous pace.
The Cavs guard duo of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland did not play. Ex-Bull Lauri Markkanen led Cleveland in scoring with 18 points.
"I thought it could be a really good lesson for us," Donovan said. "At the point of screens, they really were the more physical, aggressive team. I thought we were back on our heels. I thought everything that required any level of aggressiveness, they won that battle."
The Bulls aren't very tall or physical across the front line, which will be a concern this season. They're hoping to get second-year forward Patrick Williams back from a sprained ankle this week. The preseason finale is Friday at the United Center.