The Chicago Bulls are reclaiming the boards — and reasserting themselves as a physically competitive team in the process.

The Bulls snagged 74 rebounds in Wednesday’s double-overtime win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the highest tally in the NBA since 2015. And the team’s 25 offensive rebounds fueled a season-high 32 points off second-chance opportunities.

This effort on the glass was anchored by centers Andre Drummond and Nikola Vučević. The pair returned to a jumbo-sized lineup that has mostly been a stopgap measure for the Bulls amid injuries — but on Wednesday, the rotation showed how the duo can flex their strength on opponents in the paint.

“The math is very simple,” Drummond said. “You got two guys that are very good at rebounding. One of them historically being the best to ever do it — and the other one is right behind me. It makes it very hard for teams. They got to make a decision who are they going to try to block out, me or him? They gotta pick their poison.”

The Cavaliers were the first team to prompt this two-big lineup out of coach Billy Donovan, challenging the Bulls with their big-man rotation of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen.

The result on Wednesday was an old-school look for both teams — two sets of fairly traditional bigs battling in the paint like a Godzilla flick, crashing into each other and backing down in the post in an attempt to dominate the block. This time, the Bulls found the upper hand.

“It kind of reminded me of the 2010s,” Drummond said. “Two bigs in the paint, just going at it. It was a very hard-fought game, a very physical game. I’m glad the refs allowed us to play.”

Photos: Chicago Bulls 132, Cleveland Cavaliers 123 (2OT)

Here are seven more takeaways from the win.

1. DeMar DeRozan closes once again.

Jarrett Allen should have known better.

Few things in the NBA are more of a stone-cold guarantee than DeMar DeRozan’s ability to get a player to bite on his pump fake. Veterans, rookies, it doesn’t matter — DeRozan doesn’t discriminate.

So when DeRozan jerked the ball toward his forehead with his toes tucked behind the arc and 12 seconds left in the first overtime, Allen should have known better than to leave his feet.

But instead, Allen jumped. Contact followed. The referee blew his whistle. DeRozan made three free throws without hesitation. And in that play, the momentum swung in the Bulls’ favor.

DeRozan scored 16 points during the overtime periods, going 3-for-7 from the field and 9-for-10 from the free-throw line to clinch the game for the Bulls. He led the Bulls in scoring with 35 points in the win.

2. Carrying a heavy load.

Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan (11) slips past Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley (4) to score in double overtime at the United Center in Chicago on Feb. 28, 2024. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)
Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan slips past Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley to score in double overtime at the United Center on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)

The minutes are starting to add up for Coby White and DeMar DeRozan after back-to-back games against the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday and the Cavaliers on Wednesday.

White logged 91 minutes between the two games — 50 against the Cavaliers and 41 against the Pistons. DeRozan logged 89 minutes — 49 against the Cavaliers, 40 against the Pistons. The pair lead the NBA in total minutes played this season. And with injuries still affecting the Bulls roster, that trend is unlikely to change during the closing stretch of the regular season.

3. Ayo Dosunmu breaks his shooting slump.

Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu (12) soars to the rim for an easy two points against the Cavaliers in the first half at the United Center in Chicago on Feb. 28, 2024. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)
Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu soars to the rim against the Cavaliers in the first half at the United Center on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)

After breaking out as one of the leading shooters on the Bulls roster this season, Ayo Dosunmu came out of the All-Star break slightly rusty, going 0-for-5 from 3-point range against Detroit on Tuesday and 5-for-17 from behind the arc over the past three games.

But after another slightly slow start, Dosunmu snapped out of the slump against the Cavaliers, finishing 4-for-9 from deep to contribute 21 points in the win.

4. But Coby White is still stuck.

The same could not be said for Coby White, who continued his cold shooting streak with a 2-for-13 performance behind the arc on Wednesday.

White finished with 14 points on 5-for-20 shooting from the field as he struggles to relocate his 3-point shot. He is 8-for-36 from behind the arc since the All-Star break.

5. Onuralp Bitim makes a splash.

Bulls forward Onuralp Bitim (17) shoots as Cavaliers guard Max Strus (1) defends in the first half at the United Center in Chicago on Feb. 28, 2024. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)
Bulls forward Onuralp Bitim shoots as Cavaliers guard Max Strus defends in the first half at the United Center on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)

The Bulls were buoyed by rookie Onuralp Bitim, who made an impact off the bench in his first serious NBA minutes.

The front office converted Bitim from a two-way contract to a guaranteed deal rather than making a selection from the buyout market. At that point, the 24-year-old out of Turkey had played only six minutes for the Bulls — but he had impressed with his energy and 3-point accuracy while playing for the Windy City Bulls in the G League.

Bitim drained a 3-pointer for his first NBA basket, finishing with six rebounds and 10 points on 3-for-4 shooting in 27 minutes.

6. Alex Caruso is sidelined with a hamstring injury.



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