CHICAGO (AP) — Zach LaVine scored 32 points, DeMar DeRozan added 26 and the Chicago Bulls beat New Orleans 128-112 Friday night in their home opener.
Chicago’s Lonzo Ball added a triple-double against his former team with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. And the Bulls delighted their fans, rolling to an easy victory with Pelicans star Zion Williams recovering from surgery on his right foot.
LaVine welcomed the crowd prior to the first game at the United Center without capacity restrictions since the 2019-20 season, then put on a dazzling display.
The All-Star and Olympic gold medalist scored 20 points late in the first half to help send Chicago to the locker room with a 65-47 lead, and made six 3-pointers in the game.
DeRozan and Ball, Chicago’s two big offseason acquisitions, gave the fans plenty to cheer. And the Bulls improved to 2-0 for the first time since the 2016-17 team won its first three games on the way to a 41-41 record.
Brandon Ingram scored 26 for New Orleans. Devonte’ Graham added 21 points, and Jonas Valanciunas scored 18. But the Pelicans fell to 0-2 under rookie coach Willie Green after opening with a loss to Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers.
DeRozan made a big impact in the early going with eight of Chicago’s first 12 points, including a thunderous dunk off a feed from Ball.
LaVine, coming off a 34-point game against Detroit, didn’t score until he hit a corner 3 with 5:50 left in the second quarter. But he took off from there, nailing three more from beyond the arc while scoring another 17 before the end of the half as the Bulls took an 18-point lead to the locker room.
Fans were so giddy they were chanting “MVP! MVP!” late in the half for Alex Caruso when the newcomer flipped in a twisting layup.
Pelicans: F Josh Hart (right quadriceps), a starter in a lineup reshuffled to account for the absence of Williamson, was not available. He exited the opener and is day to day, Green said.
Bulls: G Coby White (left shoulder) remains sidelined following offseason surgery. … Coach Billy Donovan said F Patrick Williams was fine and under no minutes restrictions after straining his left shoulder in the opener. The second-year pro also sprained his left ankle during an optional workout on Sept. 15.
Pelicans: Visit Minnesota on Saturday.
Bulls: Host Detroit on Saturday.