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PREVIEW: Chicago Bulls aiming to rebound in rematch vs. New Orleans Pelicans

Feb 24, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8) goes to the basket past Minnesota Timberwolves forward Jarred Vanderbilt (8) during the first half of an NBA game at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The last time the New Orleans Pelicans played the Bulls, Chicago rode a sterling 3-point shooting performance to victory.

When those teams meet again Wednesday night in New Orleans, anything is possible because both clubs are unpredictable.

The Pelicans are coming off a 129-124 home victory against the NBA’s best team, the Utah Jazz, on Monday night. They also have victories against heavyweights such as Milwaukee and Phoenix, but they’ve also recorded losses against sub-.500 teams such as Oklahoma City, Sacramento, Houston, Minnesota and Detroit.

“I just think we’re one of those teams,” Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We’re talented enough to beat anybody, but probably make enough mistakes and aren’t consistent enough defensively that we can lose to anybody.”

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The Jazz cut a 17-point deficit to one late in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t pull even.

“I’m not sure we closed great,” Van Gundy said. “I thought what we did great was getting a lead that proved insurmountable.”

New Orleans won even though Utah made 10 more 3-pointers after attempting 32 more.

“It’s not easy to win a game where there’s a 30-point differential from the arc, but our guys hung in there and got it done,” Van Gundy said. “There’s all different ways to win, especially in an individual game, and we were able to get it done that way. I think if we had that differential in most games, it would be tough.”

The Pelicans had won a season-best four consecutive games when the Bulls made a franchise-record 25 3-pointers in a 129-116 victory against them on Feb. 10. That started a stretch of seven losses in 10 games for New Orleans before the victory against the Jazz.

The Bulls lost their second straight game when Nikola Jokic had 39 points and 14 rebounds to lead the visiting Denver Nuggets to a 118-112 victory Monday night.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Bulls, check out #ChicagoBulls rumors, rankings, and news here

“You can’t double him because he’s such a great passer and their team has a lot of great cutters,” said Coby White said, who had 20 points and 10 rebounds for Chicago. “And one-on-one he’s a monster. So you know, I really don’t know. I wish I could tell you (how to slow him down).”

The Bulls, who face another All-Star on Wednesday in Zion Williamson, overcame a 15-point deficit to take a six-point lead with eight minutes remaining but couldn’t slow down Jokic, who had 17 points in the final period.

“We’re a couple of possessions away from winning those games; that’s the difference,” said Zach LaVine, who scored 46 against the Pelicans. “We’re not far off. It’s just a couple of possessions. I think we’re a playoff team. I just think we make too many mistakes.”

Chicago had won three in a row before Phoenix outscored it 32-16 in the fourth quarter to prevail 106-97 on Friday. The Bulls committed 19 turnovers that led to 24 points.

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“I thought we certainly played a lot better against (the Nuggets) the last eight minutes than we certainly did against Phoenix, with all the turnovers,” coach Billy Donovan said. “I think just the totality of the game, the way we came out, was disappointing.”

–Field Level Media