Zach LaVine was on a mission Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
First and foremost, that mission was to propel the Chicago Bulls to their 15th win of the season, which they secured 119-115 over the New York Knicks.
But in the process, sticking it to Knicks superfan and ESPN pundit Stephen A. Smith was also on the Bulls All-Star's mind.
"Zach LaVine did come up to me before the game (and said) 'I know you want us to lose tonight, but it ain't happening,'" Smith said on ESPN Friday. "And then he went out on the court and showed me why."
Smith, among others, was a skeptic of the fit between LaVine and DeMar DeRozan when the latter signed with the Bulls this offseason.
"DeRozan and LaVine, can they play together?" he said. "Individually, they're big time. My issue is, they're the same (position)... I need to see it to believe it."
And, well, as the Bulls built as much as a 21-point advantage in the first half on Thursday, some discerning eyes on social media spotted a dejected Smith sitting courtside:
So, mission accomplished on both counts for LaVine, who scored 27 points on the night and six points in the game's final three minutes as the Bulls pulled away down the stretch. DeRozan added 34 points of his own, including 18 in the fourth quarter.
In turn, Smith showed them some love.
"Zach LaVine is a star. DeMar DeRozan is a star. Billy Donovan is a hell of a coach," Smith said. "They got a damn good team in Chicago, I cannot front."