A day that featured every NBA team in action saw the Chicago Bulls (6-6) get some early-season payback over the Toronto Raptors. One day after dropping the first part of their home-and-home series, the Bulls protected their home turf notching a 111-97 victory.
The Bulls have won their last three against the Raptors at the United Center.
Shooting guard Zach LaVine returned from his one-game absence to lead all scorers with 30 points on an efficient 55% shooting from the floor and 50% from beyond the arc.
He added five rebounds, three rebounds, and two steals for good measure. Not a bad night at all but the Bulls simply haven’t gotten many of them to this point due to managing LaVine’s knee. According to the two-time All-Star, that decision has been the call of his coaches and training staff.
LaVine Wants to Play
“I try to play as much as I can. That’s what I say,” LaVine said. “Until we get to a point where we can figure out what is the best-case scenario, back-to-backs are going to be a little in the air. But I felt good. And I felt even better today. I wish I played yesterday and tried to make up for it today.” (h/t K.C. Johnson/NBC Sports Chicago)
LaVine entered the night questionable for the contest.
He has missed four of the Bulls’ 12 games this season including each of the first two. They have gone 1-3 in those games. Judging by the sounds of his postgame remarks and his performance in the game, he believes he could play more.
The Bulls star is averaging 21.9 points, 4.1 assists, and 3.8 rebounds.
His overall efficiency is down (42%) but LaVine is currently knocking down over 43% of his triples after hitting four of his eight against the Raptors.
According to LaVine, that is part of the plan for him from the coaches.
“They want me to catch-and-shoot everything right now,” LaVine revealed. “I still gotta be me. I’m still catching my rhythm. But I’m starting to feel good. I’m trying to find more catch-and-shoots. There were a couple I pump-faked and tried to drive. I gotta shoot more, get up more threes. Someone telling me to shoot more? It sounds good.”
Much has been made over the lack of burst LaVine has shown here in the early stages of the season.
He has admitted to not being 100% coming off of knee surgery.
But the most telling sign is that he has been aggressively contributing one way or another whenever he has been on the floor. LaVine currently boasts the best net rating of the Bulls’ Big Three, per Cleaning The Glass.
LaVine Praises DeRozan
In what has become a common occurrence, there was praise for DeMar DeRozan. Even as he finished with just eight points, LaVine saw the value of what DeRozan was able to do compared to the last game.
The Raptors limited DeRozan to just six free-throw attempts. But, on top of his nine points (on 2-for-6 shooting), the five-time All-Star added seven assists and six rebounds.
He had the best plus-minus of any Bulls starter, including LaVine.
Bulls Schedule Easing Up
The Bulls are finishing up a stretch of five games in seven nights to begin November. They also played seven games in nine nights to start the regular season as part of one of the toughest early schedules.
Their luck is about to change as they will play just four games in the next 11 days.
“We’ve had a tough schedule to start off,” LaVine said. “Now we have a day or two off between every game. I’m happy with that because you’ll see me in the lineup.”
Surely the Bulls and fans will be happy too if it means they are getting this version of LaVine on a regular basis. He did have five turnovers — an issue that has to be cleaned up as the team had 21 total. But there is a reason to believe that LaVine will be back to his old self before all is said and done, at least that is what the Bulls have to hope.