Zach LaVine posts All-Star performance vs. two-time All-Star Bradley Beal

Zach LaVine posts All-Star performance vs. two-time All-Star Bradley Beal

When the Bulls and Wizards took the court to begin the second half Wednesday night, red streamers hung from the new, state-of-the-art scoreboard, shiny detritus hanging around from the halftime show.

“[Officials] said, ‘We gotta take these down.’ I said, ‘No, let’s play. What are we worried about the streamers for? We got a game to play. They gotta get home. They gotta travel. What are we doing?’” coach Jim Boylen said after the Bulls’ 115-106 victory. “I coached [Wizards coach] Scotty [Brooks] in Houston.  So I’ve known Scotty for 25 years. I said, ‘Scotty, you wanna play?’ He said, ‘Let’s play.’ That was it. We played.”

Zach LaVine certainly did. And the Bulls’ guard boosted his chances to make the Feb. 16 All-Star game at the United Center, where, presumably, streamers will be in abundance.

“It would mean a lot. It’s one of my goals,” LaVine said about possibly making his first. “I think it would be great for the city, having one of their own guys there. I don’t feel like I need the verification of it. I think I know where I’m at as a player and how I’ve been player. Even last year, compared to other people, I know how good I am. I think it’s always good to have that solidified, especially when it’s in your home building.”

LaVine is certainly playing like one, outdueling two-time All-Star Bradley Beal, who played despite being a gametime decision with a banged-up shoulder.

LaVine posted his 13th 30-point game of the season, running his streak of scoring 25 or more points to a career-best five games. In the Eastern Conference, only Giannis Antetokounmpo, with 30, and Trae Young, with 26, have posted more 25-point games than LaVine’s 23.

“I think he should be in the game,” Boylen said. “He’s an All-Star caliber player. He’s an All-Star caliber person. He has worked very hard.

“It’s an unbelievable story, too. Wins the dunk contest twice, tears the ACL, comes back and is becoming a two-way player. He’s leading more. He’s communicating more. He’s developing... You look at his crunch-time numbers and the big shots he makes in winning time. I think it’s all right there for him.”

LaVine never has lacked for confidence. And he hasn’t been shy about expressing how much he feels he deserves All-Star status. Heck, he felt he belonged last year, pointing to how his statistics matched favorably with then-Hornets guard Kemba Walker’s.

Now, it’s LaVine who could benefit from the hometown bump — last year’s game was played in Walker’s then-home arena in Charlotte — particularly if NBA commissioner Adam Silver needs to name an injury replacement.

“I expect myself to play this way,” LaVine said. “I put a lot of work in for it. It doesn’t mean a lot to me unless it ends in a win like this. So that feels good.”

About the only blemish on LaVine’s night came when he missed a technical foul shot. That snapped a streak of 26 straight made free throws by LaVine, who didn’t go to the line again.

LaVine added seven assists and seven rebounds, and that’s where his game has shown the most growth this season. His decision-making and ability to read the game stand out.

“That’s what All-Stars do. They give you what they can give you every night,” Boylen said. “I love the scoring part. I like the two-way player part. I like the way he’s knocking balls loose and flying around. I like the way he’s attacking the rim. He’s having a great season. And he’s getting better all the time.”

LaVine sank six 3-pointers. That gives him 16 games with at least four 3-pointers this season, matching Ben Gordon’s franchise record. The Bulls have 40 games to play.

Translated: He’ll break Gordon’s mark.

That wouldn’t bring streamers down from the rafters, but an All-Star appearance might.

“You have to be consistent. I think I have in the past. I have to continue to do that,” LaVine said “I’m in a nice little groove right now. But I got the same mindset every time I step on the floor.”

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Pacers GM Chad Buchanan pulls out of consideration for Bulls' front office job

USA Today

Pacers GM Chad Buchanan pulls out of consideration for Bulls' front office job

Chad Buchanan has worked closely and successfully with Kevin Pritchard at two NBA franchises, including their current situation with the Indiana Pacers. Pritchard currently serves as the Pacers' president of basketball operations, Buchanan the general manager.

Ultimately, that comfort level and a strong personal situation led Buchanan to wanting to stay put in Indiana. Buchanan, one of Bulls president Michael Reinsdorf’s four initial interview targets to run basketball operations in a new-look front office, conveyed his desire to stay, according to a source. The Athletic’s Shams Charania first reported the news.

The Bulls remain hopeful to receive permission to interview Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas, Raptors general manager Bobby Webster and Heat vice president of basketball operations/assistant general manager Adam Simon. Reinsdorf’s goal is to build a front office with depth, and whomever is hired to head Bulls’ basketball operations could make additional hires and be charged with overhauling the scouting department.

Executive vice president John Paxson, who largely initiated the need to modernize the front office, is expected to remain in an advisory role. However, Paxson has made clear to ownership he’s willing to play as large or as small a role as the new head of basketball operations desires.

The future of general manager Gar Forman, who largely has been moved to a scouting position, could be determined by the new hire.

As previously reported, Reinsdorf remains a fan of coach Jim Boylen. However, whomever the Bulls hire to run basketball operations will have full authority, including ultimately deciding the coaching staff’s future.

One rising force in the Bulls’ front office who is expected to be safe is assistant general manager Steve Weinman, a source said. He has made an impression not only internally but among rival league executives for his salary cap acumen and knowledge of the collective bargaining agreement.

It’s Reinsdorf’s goal to have the hire in place before a possible resumption of the 2019-20 season that has been suspended due to the COVID-19 virus. Most league observers believe any potential resumption is multiple weeks if not months away, and there is some planning for the potential loss of the balance of the season.

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Report: NBA and ESPN planning a televised H-O-R-S-E competition

Report: NBA and ESPN planning a televised H-O-R-S-E competition

The NBA and ESPN are teaming up to plan a televised H-O-R-S-E competition among "several high-profile players," according to reporting by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

It's the latest in a line of creative ideas from the NBA and ESPN to fill the void left by the indefinite suspension of live sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Friday night, ESPN broadcast the first half of the first round of a players-only NBA 2K20 tournament, to run through April 11.

No details have emerged as it relates to a timeline of events, which players would participate or what the format of the H-O-R-S-E competition would be.

Players would trade trick shots virtually, according to Wojnarowski. Many NBA players undoubtedly have private home gyms or courts from which they could safely compete.

This isn't the first time the NBA has waded into the H-O-R-S-E waters. In 2009 and 2010, H-O-R-S-E was broadcast on TNT as a regular part of All-Star weekend festivities before being cancelled in 2011 (Kevin Durant won the competition both years). And understandably so. This matchup, between Durant and Rajon Rondo, devolved into a standstill 3-point contest narrated by a boisterous Charles Barkley:

That event was a reclamation of a 32-player H-O-R-S-E tournament the league broadcast on CBS during the 1977-78 season, which Paul Westphal won over Rick Barry. Barry made the finals as a replacement for an injured Pete Maravich, who absolutely trounced his way through the tourney. 

At least there was some creativity back then:

Of course, all of the league's past H-O-R-S-E experiments were held in person with fans in attendance. It remains to be seen how they'll look to spice up this iteration of the competition.

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