As the up-and-down nature of its season continues, the Chicago Bulls at least has felt good about relying on the recent steadiness from big man Nikola Vucevic.
After contributing 26 points and 13 rebounds to Saturday’s road victory against the Orlando Magic, Vucevic enters Tuesday’s visit from the Los Angeles Clippers with 12 double-doubles in the past 14 games.
That has vaulted Vucevic to sixth in the league with 28 double-doubles.
“I’m feeling really good right now. I’m really in a rhythm,” Vucevic said. “I’m really finding my spots within the game, whether it’s making shots or making plays for others or rebounding.”
Tuesday marks the beginning of a four-game homestand for Chicago, which has won five of the past six games in its own building.
Vucevic led the Bulls with 17 rebounds and seven assists in their most recent home game, a 111-100 victory against Atlanta on Jan. 23. He had six assists against the Magic, his former team, and is averaging 3.3 assists per game this season.
“I really enjoy passing, especially if I get the ball in the pocket and can make plays for my teammates, whether it’s a cutter or someone in the corner,” Vucevic said. “I enjoy that as much as scoring a bucket. I feel it’s a very underrated part of my game. I enjoy making the right play.”
At Orlando, Vucevic displayed his versatility as the Magic struggled to contain him, while also trying to keep track of DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine, who scored 32 points each.
DeRozan has scored at least 25 points in five straight games since returning from a quadriceps strain.
The Clippers are coming off Sunday’s 122-99 loss at Cleveland, which snapped a season-best five-game winning streak.
Los Angeles fell to 1-1 on its six-game road trip while playing without Kawhi Leonard (knee), Paul George (knee) and Reggie Jackson (Achilles soreness). The trio each played during Saturday’s victory at Atlanta.
No additional back-to-backs are scheduled for the trip, which will end a stretch that sees the Clippers play 10 of 11 on the road.
Should he suit up, Leonard will attempt to extend his nine-game streak of shooting at least 50 percent from the field on at least 10 attempts.
He was 12 of 20 for 32 points against Atlanta on Saturday, maintaining the league’s longest streak of 50 percent or better shooting on at least 10 shots. No Clippers player has reached 10 games in the category since Blake Griffin in November 2013.
Being at full strength has helped Los Angeles realize its potential.
“Having everybody back, putting in the extra time, working on our rotations and stuff defensively and going through our plays, talking about the rotations we’re making and everybody who steps on the floor is playing basketball the right way,” the Clippers’ Norman Powell said. “And when you do that, everybody is feeling good, everybody is touching everybody, being effective.”
The Bulls lead the all-time series 68-55 and swept the two-game season series in 2021-22. That included a 135-130 home victory in overtime on March 31 behind 50 points from DeRozan.