HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — The Windy City Bulls, presented by BMO Harris Bank, the NBA G League affiliate of the Chicago Bulls, head into the All-Star break on a high note after defeating the Wisconsin Herd 126-110 on Tuesday night at Sears Centre Arena.
Windy City was without the services of JaKarr Sampson and CJ Fair, who missed the game due to injury, but seven different Bulls players scored in double figures. Kaiser Gates collected his eighth double-double of the season and tied his career-high with 24 points and added 11 rebounds in a reserve role. Walt Lemon Jr. totaled 18 points and career-high 15 assists, while V.J. Beachem tallied a season-high 18 points of his own. Ferrakohn Hall had 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting and in his return to Windy City, Brandon Sampson had 15 points. Rawle Alkins collected his his fifth double-double and posted 14 points and 10 rebounds and Mychal Mulder pitched in with 13 points.
Wisconsin was led in scoring by Christian Wood, who is the G League’s second leading scorer. He tallied his 13th 30-point game and grabbed 12 rebounds for his 18th double-double of the season. Bonzie Colson and Michael Qualls recorded 17 points apiece, while Robert Johnson had 10 points off the bench. Brandon McCoy and Trevon Duval notched nine points each and Shevon Thompson added seven points.
Tuesday’s matchup featured the second stingiest defense in Windy City, who allow a shade over 103 points per game and the Herd who surrender 117.2 points, which is the highest average in the league. Lemon Jr. made his first three field goals and put the Bulls on the board first by scoring the opening four points of the contest. The trio of Lemon Jr., Mulder and Hall combined to score 19 of the Bulls first 23 points, leading to a 23-13 lead upon the first media timeout. The first quarter featured a couple ties and lead changes early on, but Windy City eventually jumped out to a 15-point lead, which was the highest for either team in the first half. In total, the Bulls shot 68 percent, scored a season-high 37 first quarter points and led 37-29 at the end of the opening 12 minutes.
Windy City tallied the first points of the second quarter to retake a double-digit lead, but the Herd responded with eight straight points of their own to make it a two-point game. The Bulls re-upped their advantage to 11, but halfway through the stanza, Wisconsin used a 10-0 run to slice the Bulls advantage to one, which forced a Windy City timeout with 4:22 remaining. Following the stoppage, the Herd took the lead and over the final 3:47, the two teams seesawed back-and-forth. On the heels of trailing by double figures in the first period, the Herd flipped the script and outscored the Bulls by 10 in the second quarter. Both teams shot at least 50 percent in the half, but with two seconds left to play, Wisconsin scored on a layup giving them a 66-64 halftime lead.
The Herd’s hot offensive shooting persisted to start the third quarter as they scored the opening six points of the half to take their largest lead of the night. However, Windy City withstood the Wisconsin run and scored 11 unanswered points to reclaim a 77-74 lead, forcing a Wisconsin timeout at the 7:20 mark. The Bulls ultimately scored 24 straight points, while the Herd went over six and a half minutes without a field goal. In the quarter, the Bulls shot 16-for-24 and led by as many as 23, which served as their high-water mark. In similar fashion to the first quarter, Windy City scored a season-high 40 points in the third quarter and led 104-82 heading into the final 12 minutes.
Entering the game, Windy City amassed a 16-2 record when ahead or tied at the end of the third quarter. Tuesday’s contest was much of the same, as the Bulls not only led throughout but did so by maintaining a double-digit lead. With 2:56 left in the game, Wisconsin pulled to within 10, but never cut their deficit inside single digits. Windy City had a strong close to quarter and scored 11 of the final 16 points of the game. The Bulls outscored the Herd by 18 in the second half and collected their 20th win of the season, 126-110.
The 126 points scored set a season-high and are the most the Bulls have scored since tallying 129 points on Mar. 2, 2018 at Long Island. Additionally, Windy City shot 52 percent for the game, which is their eighth time shooting 50 percent or higher in a game this season.
Windy City heads into the All-Star break in sole possession of first place in the central division. The Bulls will have a week off before returning to action on Wednesday, Feb. 20 against the Agua Caliente Clippers. Tip-off at Sears Centre is set for 11:00am CT.