The backcourt dynamic the Bulls have been envisioning came to life Wednesday night.
In a lights-out shooting display, the Bulls hit a franchise-record 25 3-pointers in a 129-116 win against the Pelicans at the United Center. Leading the barrage was the backcourt duo of Zach LaVine and Coby White, who became the first teammates in NBA history to each hit at least eight 3-pointers in the same game, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
LaVine had 46 points while shooting 9-of-14 from 3-point range. White added 30 points and went 8-of-17 from deep on a night the Bulls shot 53.2% on 3-pointers.
“That’s big, I didn’t know that,” LaVine said of the historic nature of the evening shortly after the game ended. “We’re explosive enough to be able to do that, two really good shooters.”
LaVine came out firing, scoring 20 points and hitting five 3-pointers in the first quarter, including a fallaway from the left corner over a strong contest. The sight of LaVine going bananas is nothing new to White, who marveled at what his teammate continues to do. LaVine is averaging 28.2 points and shooting 42.5% on 3-pointers in 24 games – on high volume as well, with his 8.1 3-point attempts per game ranking 10th in the NBA entering play Wednesday.
“It was amazing, bro, if I’m being honest,” White said of LaVine’s shooting display. “You know, yeah if I’m being honest, he’s just a shotmaker, no matter how he puts the ball in the basket. Like you said, it’s crazy. You see it so much.”
White then shared a line to remember.
“Just count the number of times from this year and last year, how many times I’ve seen him come out blazing hot to where it’s not even – is he really blazing hot or is that just him?” White said. “So that’s been the main thing. Like I said, we’re super excited for him. He’s having a helluva year.”
White’s outburst was much-needed because he had been in a cold spell, having shot 9-of-31 from 3-point range in his past five games before turning it around. To help the 20-year-old White get going, the Bulls used him off the ball more Wednesday, which allowed him more catch-and-shoot opportunities than he usually gets as their starting point guard.
LaVine pointed out that White “showed that confidence again.” And that’s exactly what the Bulls want to see from him, as they’ve continued to tell him to stay aggressive.
“When he’s not playing well, there is an internal drive to him that almost has this, like, ‘I’ll show you’ mentality,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said. “I love that because the league is so good, there’s so many great players, you’ve got to have bounce-back ability. And I think he really does. He has a great internal belief and confidence in himself.”
White knows his responsibility now is to be more dependable in his production.
“For me, it’s just trying to keep that same routine and being consistent each and every night,” White said. “You know, I can’t control whether I make shots. But I can control my energy and how hard I play, so just come out here every night ready to compete and try to carry it over, try to be consistent. I feel like that’s my biggest flaw right now – just being consistent on both ends of the court.
“I just got to continue to be aggressive and make the right play. At the end of the day, like I said, just make the right play. I believe in the basketball gods. I believe they’re always watching. So me playing the right way, everything will work itself out.”
Cody Westerlund is a sports editor for 670TheScore.com and covers the Bulls. Follow him on Twitter @CodyWesterlund.