Bulls

Zach LaVine continues All-Star push with historic outing against Cavaliers

Zach LaVine continues All-Star push with historic outing against Cavaliers

Forget statement games, Zach LaVine is having a statement month. 

In 10 January games, the Bulls’ 6-foot-6 messiah is the fourth-leading scorer in the NBA, averaging 30.6 points on 50% shooting (22.8 attempts). 

To borrow a word from Jim Boylen, his latest installment — 42 points on 19-for-31 shooting in a game the Bulls clawed back from down 19 in the second half to topple the Cavaliers 118-116 — was “herculean.”

“If that's not an all-star performance I don't know what is,” Boylen said. “He’s been a monster, man. He’s been a monster.”

To LaVine, there isn’t much supernatural about these types of nights; he’s been preaching his confidence and readiness to carry this team since day one. LaVine scored 21 of his 42 points in the fourth quarter, and on a night he conceded his legs were a tad worn, he attempted only six 3-pointers, instead finding most of his offense in the midrange and at the rim.

“Make or break time, we're not gonna get back in the game by just playing nicely. So I'm gonna attack their body, try to make them make a call. Had some tough finishes, made some tough shots, but I take that upon myself,” LaVine said. 

“Just playing the right way,” he added of his recent torrid streak. “I expect to. I put the work in for it.”

But All-Star berths and widespread acclaim aren’t dolled out based on individual point totals, alone, regardless of how effortless LaVine’s prolificity looks at times. And LaVine knows that. Casting the 42 points aside, he also finished the night with a team-high six rebounds, five steals and three assists. He was all-encompassing. Michael Jordan is the only player in Bulls history to post a line with those minimums in a game.

His contributions to a tightly clamped Bulls defense in the fourth were note-worthy for a player that's often advertised his motivation to grow as a two-way, all-around player. And most importantly, the game ended in victory.

“He [LaVine] wants to win. And he knows in order to win you gotta do multiple things in this league and I feel like he did that tonight,” Kris Dunn said. “He was guarding today, scoring the ball, getting rebounds, getting guys involved. We need that from him.”

LaVine lauded the Bulls’ new-look closing lineup of he, Dunn, Tomas Satoransky, Chandler Hutchison and Lauri Markkanen. The Bulls ventured to switch pick-and-rolls with that lineup late, as opposed to their usual blitzing, and outscored the Cavaliers 31-14 in the final period while forcing 10 turnovers.

“We made a lot of defensive stops, we got in transition. Chandler [Hutchison] came in and made some really big plays. Kris Dunn on the defensive end was incredible,” LaVine said. “And that helped me even recently get in some passing lanes. We put it together in the fourth.”

Tonight marked LaVine’s third 40-point game of the season and tenth straight with more than 20. His 31 field goal attempts were a season-high, three more than he hoisted in his record smashing 49-point night in Charlotte. Night in, night out, the on-court production and responsibility acceptance is there. But behind the scenes, he’s ever-improving, as well.

“He's been talking in the huddles, he's been chattering, he's been locked in,” Boylen said. “He's bouncing back from maybe a poor moment or a bad stretch. He's bouncing back now, he's not playing backward at all. And that's what the great ones do.”

“I stepped into this year from the get-go using my voice more, and you know, I've never been a real vocal person but you know, when I say something I think my voice carries weight,” LaVine added.

LaVine isn’t getting ahead of himself. He called this win — however exhilarating — an “ugly” one and lamented the familiar lackluster play that dug the Bulls their 18-point halftime deficit to begin with. Miracle comebacks shouldn't be necessary to beat a now 12-30 Cavaliers team on their last game of a six-game road trip.

Still, the statements are piling up. If his overall outing wasn’t enough, LaVine offered another one to the United Center crowd after his final bucket of the evening, an and-one finish through Collin Sexton with 16 seconds remaining to put him over 40 points and the Bulls ahead by four.

What did he say?

“You want the explicit version or the PG-13?” LaVine said with a chuckle. “This my stuff.” 

Continuing to stuff stat sheets, as he has been, is going to make All-Star jurors’ lives that much more difficult.

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NBCA, Adam Silver speak out following George Floyd’s death and recent protests

NBCA, Adam Silver speak out following George Floyd’s death and recent protests

The National Basketball Coaches Association (NBCA hereafter) and commissioner Adam Silver recently joined the chorus of voices speaking out in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.

A statement from the NBCA, signed by 33 coaches and almost 180 assistant coaches, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports:

 

The statement pinpoints “police brutality, racial profiling and the weaponization of racism” as “shameful, inhuman and intolerable.”

And their call for “positive change” will reportedly be followed by some action. The NBCA has also formed a “committee on racial injustice and reform to pursue solutions within NBA cities”  Wojnarowski reports, which will be comprised of at least Gregg Popovich, Steve Kerr, Lloyd Pierce, David Fizdale, Stan Van Gundy, Doc Rivers, JB Bickerstaff and Quin Snyder.

Already, many in the NBA community have acted to protest systemic racism and police brutality in the wake of Floyd’s death. Stephen Jackson, Karl-Anthony Towns and Josh Okogie demonstrated with many in Minneapolis. Jaylen Brown drove 15 hours from Boston to lead a peaceful march in Atlanta that also featured Malcolm Brogdon. Lonnie Walker aided in clean-up efforts after a night of protests in San Antonio. The list goes on from there.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver wrote in an internal memo to NBA employees obtained by ESPN that he was “heartened” by those “speaking out to demand justice, urging peaceful protest and working for meaningful change.” Silver also called for introspection and promised the NBA will “continue its efforts to promote inclusion and bridge divides through collective action, civic engagement, candid dialogue and support for organizations working towards justice and equality.” He expressed condolences to the Floyd family, outrage over the wrongful deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and an obligation to not ignore the issues of “racism, police brutality and racial injustice.”

As of this writing, 26 of 30 NBA teams have issued statements on Floyd’s passing, either as entities or through organization spokespeople, ranging from executives to coaches. Hopefully, the words of many lead to action — and that action to appreciable change.

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Dennis Rodman asks looters to stop, protest George Floyd killing peacefully

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USA Today

Dennis Rodman asks looters to stop, protest George Floyd killing peacefully

Dennis Rodman isn’t sugarcoating things as he calls on looters to stop the destruction across the country, and protest peacefully.

“Please, please understand we have to live together,” Rodman said in a video on TMZ. “We’re human beings. We’re not f---ing animals, we’re human beings.”

Rodman likened the protests going on today to the Los Angeles riots in 1992, and said younger generations may not have a full appreciation for how things spiraled out of control back then.

“It’s a bad situation and I think we should all understand the fact that there’s a new generation,” Rodman said in the video. “People my age all knew about the Rodney King thing, and things start to happen, people looting, setting fires, damaging people’s homes, businesses and stuff like that. Now we have this incident.

“I think someone needs to come out and say, ‘Hey guys, why are we looting? Why are we stealing? Why are we creating more issues, more problems, stuff like that?’”

Rodman elaborated that he believes these latest protests across the nation are a symptom of a larger problem, and that the country needs to address the underlying issues.

“Let’s get to the head of what’s really going on,” Rodman said. “This is a bad, bad situation. If you’re going to protest, protest in the right way. You don’t have to go and burn down things, steal things… and stuff like that.

“We’ve got enough issues with the COVID virus right now. We’ve got enough issues.”

Finally, Rodman made an emotional appeal for people to come together, not create an even wider divide.

“Why are we doing this? Why are we hurting each other again? Why not just help each other, hold each other's hands and try to solve the problem? We didn’t create this problem, but guess what, we can help. Especially the new generation, the 24/7 generation, help us as older individuals to understand this. Don’t add to it. Do not add to it. Help us, and help everybody right now.”

RELATED: Michael Jordan issues statement of solidarity in wake of George Floyd's death

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