Vucevic's big game helps Bulls rally past Spurs as Wembanyama watches
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Nikola Vucevic had 24 points and 16 rebounds, and the Chicago Bulls overcame a career-high 30 points from Tre Jones to rally for a 122-116 victory Saturday over the San Antonio Spurs, who sat Victor Wembanyama.
Chicago closed the game on an 8-1 run to win for the fourth time in five games. Vucevic’s second 3-pointer of the game put the Bulls ahead 120-116 with 32 seconds remaining.
“It always feels good to hit a big shot at the end of the game,” Vucevic said. “I was really happy I made a shot, but I was more happy I helped us win a game. We came up with a big, big win for us on the road.”
Wembanyama did not play the second game of a back-to-back. The Spurs continue to proceed cautiously with the No. 1 pick following a sprained ankle he sustained Dec. 23 in Dallas. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said Wembanyama should be re-evaluated within two weeks, but he will not play both games of a back-to-back Jan. 19 in Charlotte and Jan. 20 in Washington.
Keldon Johnson had 26 points as San Antonio’s two-game winning streak ended. Jones added nine rebounds and four assists.
Devin Vassell, the Spurs’ second-leading scorer, struggled offensively as Wembanyama watched in a turtleneck from the bench. Vassell finished with five points on 1-for-13 shooting.
Jones stepped up with four 3-pointers, all in the first half. Jones, who entered 16 for 68 on 3-pointers this season, finished 4 for 6 on 3s.
“Shots were open, and I took them and made them,” Jones said. “It wasn’t anything specific. They were playing off of me a lot. Obviously, they know I like to pass and get my teammates involved. So, I was just trying to take my shot when it was there, make them respect it and play out of that. My shot was feeling good and going in, so that’s always a good feeling.”
San Antonio went on a 12-0 run punctuated by Blake Wesley’s one-handed slam that cut Chicago’s lead to 90-88 with two minutes remaining in the third quarter. Johnson hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final minute of the third to tie the game at 94.
The Spurs opened an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter but missed seven of their last eight shots.
“This is the fifth game in a row where they’ve played like this and played well enough to win a game,” Popovich said. “Starting with (two close losses against) Milwaukee then Cleveland and the two wins and tonight. We are showing more consistency. Down the stretch, experienced guys probably feel a little more comfortable shooting those 3s, but we had the same ones. Eventually, they’ll fall.”
Chicago closed the first quarter on a 16-5 run in taking a 13-point lead. San Antonio is 2-26 this season when trailing by double digits.
"I feel like we’re getting better,” Bulls coach Donovan said. “I really do. I think we are playing stylistically how I’d like to see us play, how I think the game should be played. We’re sharing the ball. We’re trying to generate shots. We’re scoring more points.”
It was a rare third meeting in the regular season between the Bulls of the Eastern Conference and Spurs of the West, but one necessitated by the inaugural In-Season Tournament.
Bulls: At Cleveland on Monday.
Spurs: At Atlanta on Monday.