Zach LaVine's mammoth dunk over Kings forward JaKarr Sampson will be the talk of Bulls Twitter for the next few days, and rightfully so. But the bigget story might have been another solid showing on both ends for the Bulls' shooting guard, who scored 27 points and showed off a new nice defensive plays. Unfortunately that was about it for a Bulls team that started off hot, then lost their cool, and ultimately couldn't execute down the stretch in a 104-98 loss.
But LaVine looked solid once again. He finished with 27 points, shot 50 percent from the field (9-for-18) and deep (4-for-8) and made all five free throws. He added two assists, though the Bulls had just 20 as a team on the evening. He was a -12 but the Bulls will clearly take 31 healthy minutes, including quick dribbles, good kickouts, solid defense and of course the monster slam.
LaVine has now scored 20 or more points in three straight games and is looking more comfortable with the ball in his hands. Yes, he froze up in a tight game with 2 minutes remaining and dribbled off his foot, but without Kris Dunn the Bulls have little ball movement as is. It can't simply fall on LaVine's shoulders, as much as he's meant to be the Messiah.
The storyline for Friday is Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson returning to Chicago to take on their old team. But it's a reunion for LaVine, too. It'll be his first game against former head coach Tom Thibodeau and teammates Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. You can bet he wants to keep this streak going, and you can bet his teammates and Butler saw his dunk on Sampson. Game on.
- Did Robin Lopez get ejected in his final game with the Bulls?
Chicago Tribune reporter K.C. Johnson wrote yesterday that trade talks involving the Bulls center are heating up. Lopez was certainly heated on Monday, picking up two technical fouls and receiving an ejection after arguing a pair of foul calls in the first half of Tuesday's game.
Lopez has been known to let officials know what he thinks, so this wasn't all that surprising. It also let the Bulls get a longer look at Cris Felicio, for whatever that's worth. Felicio played 18 minutes and had one point, seven rebounds and two assists. Yeah, more of the same from him.
As for Lopez, the Bulls won't play again until after the trade deadline, so there's a chance Lopez's final game went 13 minutes, 2 points and 1 ejection.
- The tank is on! Though the Bulls lost Monday night, they earned a crucial loss in the tanking department against a team they're chasing. The Mavericks dropped a late lead that hurts in the standings, but as of Monday night and into Tuesday morning here is where the worst teams in the league stand:
1. Atlanta Hawks (16-37) (-)
2. Orlando Magic (16-36) (0.5 GB)
3. Dallas Mavericks (17-36) (1 GB)
4. Sacramento Kings (17-36) (1 GB)
5. Phoenix Suns (18-36) (1.5 GB)
6. Chicago Bulls (18-35) (2 GB)
7. Memphis Grizzlies (18-34) (2.5 GB)
8. Brooklyn Nets (19-35) (2.5 GB)
Yes, the Bulls are right back in the thick of the lottery mix after seven straight losses. With the trade deadline coming up and games against Minnesota, Washington and Toronto coming up...there could be more lottery balls in the Bulls' future.