Simonovic shows off, Terry pitches in as Bulls win summer league opener
Marko Simonovic told everyone he's put on weight since his rookie season.
On Friday in Las Vegas, he showed off the results. Specifically, he flexed to the crowd after dropping in a game-tying dunk with 21.9 seconds left in regulation. Simonovic finished with 27 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocks as the Bulls opened summer league with a 100-99 victory over Dallas.
When Simonovic flexed, he happened to do it right in front of the Bulls' contingent of Arturas Karnisovas, Marc Eversley and coach Billy Donovan. Simonovic told reporters he didn't notice they were seated a few feet away from his growing biceps.
The first rule of NBA summer league is to not get carried away with anything that happens, especially when it's good news.
Dominating in Las Vegas is basically a minimum requirement to be a decent NBA player. There's some good competition in the summer, but also plenty of guys who won't even be G-League stars.
Improvement is always good to see, though. Simonovic averaged 12 points and 4.4 rebounds in last year's summer league. The 6-11 native of Montenegro, a second-round pick in 2020, then got most of his playing time with the Windy City Bulls.
When at his best on Friday, Simonovic resembled Danilo Gallinari, the veteran forward who turned down the Bulls in free-agency to sign with Boston instead.
One important step for Simonovic will be to develop a reliable outside shot. He went 0-for-3 from 3-point range against the Mavs.
The other highlight player was first-round pick Dalen Terry. The 6-7 swingman finished with 9 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 6 turnovers. Terry looked like a uniquely-skilled athlete who is going to need time to develop in the NBA, no different from his pre-draft scouting report. For now, defense appears to be his best trait.
Other leading scorers for the Bulls were Malcolm Hill, a two-way player last year, with 18 points. Rookie from DePaul Javon Liberty-Freeman scored 11, while guard Carlik Jones had 9 assists.
This Bulls squad waffled between some nice individual performances and long stretches of mistake-filled, sloppy play. They finished with 21 turnovers as a team.
The first couple of minutes went really well, as Simonovic scored on a layup, follow dunk and 19-foot jumper, while two-way player Justin Lewis added a driving dunk to make it 8-2. But then Dallas surged ahead by 14 at halftime, the Bulls got as close as a point in the third quarter, then faced a double-digit deficit again.
Trailing 90-84 with 1:27 left, the Bulls managed to turn off the turnovers and turn up the defense. Terry scored on a drive to the basket, then after a Lewis steal, Simonovic hit a putback basket. A Hill steal set up the Simonovic game-tying dunk off the push with 21.9 seconds left.
During the two-minute overtime, Simonovic hit a driving layup and 3-point play with 16.7 seconds left to put the Bulls up by two.
Dallas forward A.J. Lawson tied the score, before Simonovic rebounded a Carlik miss and was fouled with 0.7 seconds on the clock. He hit the first free throw to seal the win.
Dallas got a nice performance from 6-4 guard Jaden Hardy, who scored 28 points. Hardy played for G-League Ignite last season and might have had something to prove since he lasted until the 37th overall pick in the second round. Lawson went 6-for-11 from 3-point range and also scored 28.
Veteran Bulls DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball, two Los Angeles natives, were in attendance at Thomas & Mack Center, while new addition Andre Drummond greeted the team at the airport, according to bulls.com.
The next game is Sunday vs. New York at 4 p.m.