Notching his second triple double in 10 days, while averaging 7.0 assists per game over the last 10 games, Pau Gasol is setting the table for everyone on the court. With the Bulls running the 1-5 high PnR, there are plenty of chances for Gasol to make plays out of the high post for shooters and drivers, and he's making the most of that opportunity with Jimmy Butler out again with knee soreness. The Bulls have the luxury of running their offense through a big man at the high post and that allows for plenty of off-ball movement and general offensive creativity.
Early in the first quarter, the Bulls ran the same set on back-to-back plays.
It starts with a 1-4 sideline PnR with Nikola Mirotic setting a screen and immediately diving towards the basket. Meanwhile, Rose flips it to Gasol at the top of the key, who touch passes it down to Mirotic. It worked so well, they ran it on back-to-back sets.
This time with a schnazzy look-away pass, Gasol finds Mirotic all alone under the goal. These misdirection plays open up a wide lane to the basket. The Bulls actually run the same set for the Gasol-Butler lob.
What unlocks this play is Rose's ability to attack the paint off the PnR. That draws the big defender over to help such that Gasol is open at the top of the key. In this set, Rose attacks further and finds E'Twaun Moore in the opposite corner. Moore gives it up to Gasol, who finds Gibson has sealed Giannis Antetokounmpo right in front of the basket. Taj drop steps and gets the offensive interference call. Another assist for Gasol.
They ran this for Gibson towards the beginning of the first quarter to work the paint early.
Another classic play call out of this 1-5 PnR action results in an easy bucket for Dunleavy on the weak side.
As Rose uses the screen, he draws Greg Monroe's attention, who helps a step too far. Rose dumps it back to Gasol, who gets pressure from the weak-side help (Jabari Parker). At this point, Middleton has to choose between helping Taj Gibson under the basket or Dunleavy in the corner. Gasol waits for Middleton to commit and then fires to Dunleavy for the easy corner three.
The Bulls ran this one all evening as well.
Similar action here: Rose-Gasol PnR and Gasol receives the pass at the high post. Meanwhile, Gasol has drawn so much attention that Middleton loses sight of Dunleavy. Instead of waiting in the corner, he creeps along the baseline for a reverse layup, without much pressure from Parker, who is late to react and help off of Gibson.
Gasol certainly benefited from the generous scorekeepers at the United Center, gaining an extra two dimes on plays that might be considered a stretch...
But alas, Gasol ended up with 13 assists, so even without those two, he would have reached the coveted triple-double. More importantly, the Bulls won their second straight game and held their opponent under 100 points for the first time in 16 games. Hopefully, they can build off of this momentum and continue to use Gasol as a facilitator out of the high post, moving forward.