With a 39-point performance in the Chicago Bulls‘ 109-105 Play-In Tournament win over the Toronto Raptors only counting for his team’s survival, Zach LaVine will have to settle for the reactions to his outing for posterity.
“Amazing,” DeMar DeRozan said of his teammate via the Bulls’ official YouTube channel on April 12. “He carried us, was aggressive, downhill. He put his will on the game, and we all followed behind that, offensively and defensively. That’s why he is who he is. It was great. I knew it was coming when I seen his feet moving fast. I knew he was going to get to being aggressive and getting downhill. Nobody can guard him getting downhill.”
The game started much like the regular season for LaVine: slowly.
He finished the first half with just nine points on 4-for-8 shooing including going 0-for-2 from beyond the arc. LaVine exploded for 17 points in the third quarter thanks in large part to that aggressiveness in getting downhill resulting in seven tries at the free throw line of which LaVine connected on six.
Chicago’s two-time All-Star went to the line for six more attempts in the fourth quarter, sinking all of them to pace his team literally and figuratively.
“LaVine got super-cooking there in the third,” said Raptors head coach Nick Nurse via the Yahoo! Sports YouTube channel. “They were really spreading the floor on us and getting by kind of our first line of defense and getting it deep towards the rim a lot, and just using some really good athleticism and skill to finish a lot of those. Play through the hits and score, get a bunch of and-1s as well.”
But the Bulls put up 15 of their 26 threes in the second half. They could only connect on five of them but, with just seven made threes on the night, the minor outburst went a long way toward swinging the tide in their favor.
“I get going, I’m going to get them up there with confidence,” said LaVine who hit 2-of-5 tries from the outside after halftime. “Get downhill next possession. … It’s aggressiveness, really. I think we figured out how they were playing us…But for me, the third quarter, just being aggressive leave it all out there.”
DeMar DeRozan Gives Zach LaVine His Flowers
“It’s not too many people in this league that has the talent that he has,” DeRozan said. “It feels good just to be able to see him get appreciated. From the moment that I got here, I want everything to come his way in a positive nature. Because I know how hard he works. I know how much he cares about his game. And he’s a hell of a person.”
LaVine interjected that DeRozan was making him blush to which the six-time All-Star noted that he doesn’t usually say this many “nice things” to his younger teammate.
“It’s just great to see his appreciation that come because the talent that he has,” DeRozan said. “I’ve always been a fan of him before I even came to Chicago. So now to be able to share every moment and see it means a lot. So it’s definitely dope to see it.”
DeRozan finished with 23 points, seven boards, three assists, and two blocks.
DeMar DeRozan’s Daughter Goes Viral
The Bulls were big beneficiaries of the Raptors missing 18 of their 36 free throws, the second-most in a single game in franchise history.
“She went viral,” DeRozan said smiling. “I kept hearing something during the game, they was going to free throw. Somebody missed [and] I looked back like, ‘D***, that’s my daughter screaming?’ I was just making sure she was alright though.”
Unfortunately for hopeful Bulls fans, DeRozan said that his daughter’s one-day pass from school to attend the game will not carry over to their April 14 tilt against the Miami Heat.
The Bulls went 3-0 against the Heat during the regular season