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Zach LaVine is already questioning the Bulls late-game shot selection after Kris Dunn’s first game back

he’s ignoring the real problem

Chicago Bulls v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Zach LaVine has been brilliant offensively to start the season. But in his team going 0-3 after a loss in Dallas Monday night, had some frustrated thoughts as to the cause.

At first disagreeing with coach Fred Hoiberg saying his team ‘lost their composure’, LaVine pointed to the gameplan.

“We got to run the right sets out there. We would have run the right plays, got the ball to the right people I think we would have been alright. We were playing free (in the first half) and aggressive. We weren’t coming down and being stagnant. We weren’t calling a lot of plays”


Asked how the Bulls are doing at recognizing who has the hot hand, LaVine didn’t hesitate. In fact, he repeated his answer. “I think we have to do better at it,” he said.

To be fair, LaVine later did concede to Hoiberg’s ‘composure’ point and admitted some fault from him and his offensive unit both rushing shots and committing bad turnovers.

Here’s a look at the final stretch of the game. As we already pointed out earlier, the opening of the 4th quarter already put the Bulls in a hole. And then between when LaVine checked back in at just under the 10-minute mark, and when he was pulled at 1:30 (kinda strange that Hoiberg effectively gave up, merely down 13, though to be fair I used to always complain when Thibs would do this...though Thibs’s teams were up 13...) it was a fairly bad offensive showing.

Below are some examples of the poor decisionmaking and execution on offense.

This doesn’t show the totality of the bad, only because some videos weren’t in the same format to merge, heh. There was a truly awful bad-pass turnover by Kris Dunn, and another possession where Dunn ran the ball up the court to launch an elbow-extended three.

It was Dunn’s first game this season, but it looks like immediately we are getting into the late-game dynamic between him and LaVine. They did have some good moments: Dunn had a nice assist to a Holiday corner-three, and LaVine hit one of his patented insanely-high-release triples from the top of the key. But while Dunn may be believing the local press clippings and Bulls-Reddit fanfic about his ‘closer’ status, LaVine - even though correct in his assumption that he’s more earned the role - also committed several mistakes himself.

But what’s perhaps more interesting is that LaVine barely touched on the real reason they lost - their defense.

The Mavericks didn’t shoot that well either in this time period, but they won second-chances and didn’t throw the ball away, and as a result the Bulls allowed more three-point attempts in this time than their own total field-goal attempts:

LaVine did make some reference to defense, though it doesn’t look to be his primary concern and he pointed towards scheme again:

in the second quarter we went to the blitz on their pick-and-rolls, and that mucked up a lot of things. We changed in the second half, so that hurt us. We just can’t keep making the same mistakes, especially on defense

In reality, the by-quarter breakdown showed the Bulls were worse to begin the game, with a 1st Quarter defensive rating of 138.1, followed in subsequent quarters by 107.7, 107.4, and a garbagetime-removed final quarter mark of 116.7. But LaVine was really a flamethrower on offense in that early part of the game, so maybe he didn’t notice as much.