Fair's Buzzer Beater Leads Bulls to Seventh Consecutive Win
The Windy City Bulls, presented by BMO Harris Bank, the NBA G League affiliate of the Chicago Bulls, set a franchise record with their seventh-consecutive victory in a 120-118 win over the Erie BayHawks on Friday night at Erie Insurance Arena.
Six Bulls players scored in double figures led by Walt Lemon Jr. who poured in his second 30-point game of the season and scored a game-high 30 points and added seven assists. Mychal Mulder tallied 19 points, seven rebounds and five made threes, while Kaiser Gates collected 19 points of his own to go with eight rebounds. CJ Fair added 17 points and nine rebounds and V.J. Beachem scored his 500th career point and pitched in with 13 points and nine rebounds.
Three Erie players tallied 20 or more points led by Alex Poythress who scored a team-high 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Former Windy City Bull, RJ Hunter recorded 21 points, five rebounds and three assists, while John Gillon scored 21 points in a reserve role. Jordan Seibert added 16 points and Atlanta Hawks assignee, Omari Spellman, totaled nine points, 13 rebounds and three assists.
Friday's matchup featured the number one scoring offense in Erie who came in averaging over 120 points per game and the number two scoring defense in Windy City who surrenders 102 points per contest. Offense was amiss at the start as the Bulls went scoreless for the opening two and half minutes before Lemon Jr. put them on the board with a driving layup. Following the slow start, Beachem and Hall scored the next 10 points for Windy City and the Bulls led 12-9 at the first media timeout. The BayHawks managed to tie the game at 14, but Windy City responded with a 9-2 run and took their largest lead of the first quarter at nine. Erie closed the quarter by scoring six of the final eight points, but the Bulls shot 46 percent in the period and led 27-22 at the end of the opening 12 minutes.
The second quarter began in similar fashion to the first as Windy City managed just three points in the first three minutes of the period. Conversely, Erie scored 12 points in a four-minute span and tied the game at 34 with 7:42 remaining in the half. Minutes later, the BayHawks took a 37-36 lead on a Poythress layup, which was their first advantage since leading 4-2 in the infancy stages of the game. The Erie lead didn't last long as the Bulls went back on top and extended their lead to 10 on a couple occasions, which turned out to be the largest of the night for either team. The BayHawks cut the deficit in half as they outscored Windy City by five in the final 3:08 of the quarter. In total, both teams tallied 31 points and the Bulls maintained their five-point lead heading into halftime.
Mulder provided an offensive spark to start the second half as he poured in two three-pointers to extend Windy City's lead back to double figures. The BayHawks, however, wouldn't go away as they made it a three-point game with under six minutes to play. Erie went on to tie the game at 78 and eventually took an 84-82 on a bucket by Poythress, which forced a Windy City timeout with 2:44 to play in the period. Out of the timeout, the Bulls rattled off nine consecutive points to move back in front 91-84. Leading by three in the final 35 seconds, Gates nailed a pull-up jumper to stretch the lead to five, and Windy City led 93-88 heading into the final 12 minutes.
Coming into the contest, Windy City had won 10 of their 11 contests when ahead or tied at the start of the final 12 minutes. Erie made the first basket of the fourth quarter and made it one possession game on a three-pointer by Craig Sword. The Bulls pushed the lead out to seven, but with just over five minutes remaining, the BayHawks pulled to within a basket once more. With 4:07 left to play, Erie took the lead on a three-pointer and followed it with another long ball by Hunter to lead by four, which was their high-water mark for the night. Down the stretch, the two teams see-sawed back-and-fourth and Erie jumped on top by three with 24.2 seconds left. With 12.5 ticks left, Mulder sank a free throw to tie the game at 118 apiece. One the ensuing possession, the BayHawks missed their shot attempt, giving Windy City one last chance with 7.2 seconds on the clock. After a missed shot, Fair collected a game-winning, buzzer-beating tip-in and the Bulls recorded their seventh road win of the season, beating Erie, 120-118.
With the win, the Bulls improve to 4-0 in the front end of a back-to-back and have recorded a new season-high in points in each of the last five of their last seven games.
Windy City returns home tomorrow night to take on Stockton. The Kings come in with a six-game winning streak, the second-high total behind Windy City. Tip-off at Sears Centre Arena is set for 7:00pm CT.
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