Zach LaVine Visibly Upset With Denzel Valentine At End of Loss to OKC

Getty Zach LaVine and Denzel Valentine

The Chicago Bulls‘ 127-125 overtime loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night was a tough one. It was tough to watch, so there is no question it was even tougher to handle if you played 43 minutes in the contest like Zach LaVine.

The Bulls blew a 20-point lead in the game and went on to lose thanks to some shoddy decisions and 24 turnovers. Even with all of the errors and the collapses, the Bulls had a chance to win the game at the buzzer, but LaVine’s three clanked off the front of the rim and the Thunder’s improbable comeback was complete.

After the loss, LaVine was visibly upset at the outcome, but also specifically with teammate Denzel Valentine.

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LaVine Irked With Valentine

The Bulls were down 2 at the end of regulation after the Thunder’s George Hill split a pair of free throws leaving the door open for a late shot to send the game to overtime or to win it.

LaVine needed to go the length of the floor in just 5.2 seconds. With his speed, this was no problem as LaVine streaked up the court after taking the inbounds pass. LaVine kept the ball in the middle of the court looking to get to one of his favorite spots to shoot at the top of the key.

He likely expected his teammates to fan out to the corners and perhaps for a big man to sprint to get to the paint. Unfortunately, Valentine occupied the space where LaVine was headed, their bodies clashed slightly as the latter elevated and the shot was off.

Here’s a look at the sequence, but keep an eye on LaVine immediately after the miss.

While the frustration was understandable, you never want to see a player react this way toward his teammate on the floor.


LaVine’s Body Language Was Poor All Night

Quite honestly, LaVine was giving off vibes of frustration all night. At times, when he was playing off the ball and either Coby White or Otto Porter Jr. were attempting to create, LaVine would stand with his hands on his hips.

LaVine even looked miffed earlier in the game with the team ahead. It’s unclear what was happening, but he never looked like a guy whose team was ahead the entire night.


LaVine Carried His Frustrations into the Post-Game Presser

After the game, LaVine’s frustrations were still plain to see. He gave one of the most low-spirited media sessions you’ll ever see as he tried to sum up the Bulls’ loss with as few words as possible.

LaVine didn’t want to get into any deep analysis. When asked to expound on what caused the Bulls to come up short, he said: “folded, home-run shots, whatever you wanna call It. We lost the game.”


Fixing the Issues

LaVine and White, especially, have to clean up the turnovers. LaVine had 6 of the 24 giveaways and 5 of them were in the second half, with 3 in the fourth quarter. To compound those issues, LaVine also missed three free throws combined in the fourth quarter and overtime period.

The young star made some tough shots and was a handful for the Thunder, but Valentine’s poor positioning wasn’t more to blame for this loss than Lavine’s miscues during crunch time.

 

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