Roy Williams

Coby White helps power Bulls past Knicks with scoring barrage for the ages

Coby White helps power Bulls past Knicks with scoring barrage for the ages

When North Carolina coach Roy Williams talked to Coby White pregame Tuesday, he sensed his former player was a bit down.

“I just told him to relax,” Williams said. “How many years is a talent like that going to play? A decade? Ten games doesn’t define him.”

White’s 11th NBA game, however, will live forever in his and Williams’ hearts.

White authored a shooting performance for the ages, sinking seven 3-pointers in the fourth quarter of the Bulls’ much-needed 120-102 victory over the Knicks and scoring 23 of his game-high 27 points in the final period.

The Bulls and Knicks entered the fourth quarter tied. White became the youngest player in NBA history to make seven 3-pointers, set a franchise record for 3-pointers in a quarter and tied the franchise mark for 3-pointers in a half. He fell two 3-pointers shy of Klay Thompson’s NBA record for 3-pointers in a quarter.

And Williams, who joined the standing ovation and chants of “Coby! Coby!” that boomed throughout the United Center, soaked it all in.

“It was a blessing to have him come all the way out here during his season. That explains the type of relationship you have when you go to North Carolina,” White said. “Our relationship goes beyond basketball. I love him.”

A touching moment played out on the game broadcast as Williams crashed White’s postgame on-court interview to hug him. Asked by NBC Sports Chicago’s Leila Rahimi what he would say to Williams, White smiled.

“Coach, can you come to more games?” the rookie said.

Alas, Williams can’t. He’s a little busy coaching North Carolina.

But perhaps White’s magic can carry over and help extract him from a slump that produced 3-for-26 shooting from 3-point range over his previous five games. White sank 7 of 11 from beyond the arc overall against the Knicks, scoring 18 points in the game-changing 22-0 run. At one point, White sank three 3-pointers in 54 seconds.

“I told him, ‘I’ve had 20-point quarters and I’ve seen duels with big players. I’ve never seen somebody hit seven 3s in a quarter,’” Zach LaVine said. “I’ve been telling you guys from the get-go. Coby is special. He can score the ball. He got hot. I don’t know how many he had going into the 4th. But it seemed like he had 30 in the fourth. That was as impressive as any of the (fourth quarters) I’ve ever seen.”

This is the second time this season White has taken over a fourth quarter. He scored 11 fourth-quarter points in the road victory over Memphis.

“I thought the beauty in Coby’s game was he let it come to him,” coach Jim Boylen said. “But we found him and we honored what he was doing by keep feeding him. That group did a helluva job.”

Indeed, Ryan Arcidiacono finished with eight assists and one turnover and Kris Dunn posted 13 points with three steals as the oft maligned three-guard lineup came through. White’s performance just screamed the loudest.

“He’s a gamer and he’s a worker,” Boylen said. “It bothers him when he doesn’t play as well as he thinks he could play. He cares.”

That’s evident in White’s off-day routine, which hasn’t changed whether he’s playing well or not.

“Just stick to my craft and what got me here, which is working hard and getting up reps in the gym,” White said. “I know to shoot your way out of a slump, you gotta shoot the ball and stay confident. If you’re not confident, you’re never going to hit shots. I just try to stick to my plan. Get in the gym, get up extra shots and stay level-headed and confident.”

White said Williams told him “to be Coby and use a little more legs on my shot.” And as for where this scoring barrage ranked for the most prolific scorer in North Carolina high school history?

“That’s No. 1,” White said.

Bears signing of Rueben Randle has some curious elements

Bears signing of Rueben Randle has some curious elements

The Bears' signing of former New York Giant and No. 2 draft pick Rueben Randle to a reserve/futures contract on Tuesday was a small tell that the Bears indeed will pull just about any lever to effect a roster upgrade. But Randle is a curious case — they had a chance to sign him anytime last season and didn't — and there's a teeny shred of "this sounds kinda familiar" to it.
 
Roy Williams. Brandon Marshall. Now Randle? All part of a group that looks every bit the part — and then teams find out why they were available in the first place.
 
Randle was the 63rd player taken in the 2012 draft, 18 picks after the Bears under GM Phil Emery traded up in in the second round to grab Alshon Jeffery and already had dealt away two No. 3's to acquire Marshall. "Enigmatic" would be a fair descriptor for all three receivers.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]
 
Randle piled up 188 receptions, 2,644 yards and 20 touchdowns in his four seasons with the Giants, and started 33 of 64 games. But two NFL personnel men described Randle as a head case who runs lousy routes and was never where he was supposed to be, which did not sit well with quarterback Eli Manning. Consensus was that the Giants would've dumped Randle if he hadn't been someone's No. 2 draft pick.
 
Signing Randle at this point, after he was out of football all year following his failure to stick with Philadelphia past the 75 round of cuts, is intriguing. The Bears brought him to Halas Hall for a workout in late November but chose not to sign him despite a wideout-lite lineup that was without Jeffery (suspended) and Kevin White (injured), had Deonte Thompson starting, and proceeded to drop 10 passes the following game vs. Tennessee.
 
A reserve/futures contract assures the Bears a longer look at Randle this offseason, at a time when their receivers depth chart is in flux, with Jeffery coming out of his franchise tag, Eddie Royal unlikely to return after two injury-riddled seasons and Marquess Wilson a free agent but coming off a fractured foot.