Sunday, November 27, 2022

Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine Send a message to Coby White

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Absence makes the heart beat faster. Or, lyrically, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. The 22-year-old fourth-year Chicago Bulls guard wasn’t even born when Cinderella released her famous power ballad in 1988, but he could be the Bulls’ equivalent of the lost love in the song.

In the Bulls’ 118-113 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, his third return game after an eight-game absence, White had 14 points, three rebounds, three steals, two assists and a block.

Most importantly for the Bulls, he hit 4-of-7 triples.

“He changed the game,” White’s teammate DeMar DeRozan said of NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider KC Johnson. “Cob gets hot, he can do six or eight 3s in any game. He’s changing the way the defense protects us when he’s out there.”

DeRozan added that he constantly encouraged White to keep shooting even when it didn’t fall and that he knew he’d go to him for a big corner three if White’s man left him.

Before White went under, the Bulls were averaging 112.7 points per game and shooting 36.3% from beyond the arc. In his absence, they averaged 109 PPG over that span and shot 35.6% from Deep Going 3-5.

White himself hasn’t shot the ball very well this season, hitting a career-worst 31.3% of his threes.

But he’s made a concerted effort to bring more energy and impact the game in other ways.

However, the Bulls need White to shoot it like he did against the Bucks. He’s hit multiple threes in five of his 10 games this season. He’s played 0-for in three of the other five, which gives some insight into the up-and-down nature of White’s game. Still, head coach Billy Donovan says he’s never wavered.

“He can correct course pretty quickly,” Donovan said. “The only thing I love about Coby is its resilience. He doesn’t focus too much on himself. He stays committed and just believes in himself.”

White scored six of his points by hitting two of his three-pointers in the fourth quarter, which helped the Bulls earn only their first clutch win in seven attempts this season.

And the cops aren’t a bit surprised.

“He’s done that his whole career. He stays ready. He’s confident,” Zach LaVine said of White. “He’s not afraid to take a shot or miss. I always respected that about him. It’s nothing new. He’s done it before.”

This is no small moment for White in the last year of his contract and no plans for an extension and given that the Bulls had him on the trading bloc for the last year.

If he can find some consistency to achieve what he did against Milwaukee, would they reconsider?

The Bulls had 25 clutch wins last season, the third most in the NBA. That this one came on a night when LaVine had 18 points but went 3-for-11 from beyond the arc and then went 1-for-8 overall in the fourth quarter is a testament to his teammates.

That certainly includes DeRozan, who lost a game-high 36 points, including 18 points in the fourth quarter alone.

And Nikola Vucevic scored nine of his 18 points in the last frame.

But White’s influence in the stats — he’s fifth behind the Bulls in on-off differential, according to Cleaning The Glass — and distance to the bottom for LaVine’s slashing, DeRozan’s mid-range play, or Vucevic’s post-ups is too Invaluable for a team that is light on his skills.

The Bulls had 25 clutch wins last season, the third most in the NBA. That this one came on a night when LaVine had 18 points but went 3-for-11 from beyond the arc and then went 1-for-8 overall in the fourth quarter is a testament to his teammates.

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