The Bulls are still mired in this injury-plagued stretch of games where there is little to learn or enjoy, but last night’s last-second loss to the Spurs was relatively interesting and entertaining. And it provided some insight into Zach LaVine’s ‘closer’ abilities and execution.
LaVine has been criticized for this decision to end the game where he not only waved off a screen to go in isolation against DeMar DeRozan, but then didn’t penetrate and instead stayed back well behind the arc, though the team was down a single point.
Fred wants a Wendell screen. LaVine clears it out and takes a deep 3.— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) November 27, 2018
Bulls lose. pic.twitter.com/kHCaBTgcrb
Cody Westerlund of 670TheScore encapsulated the post-game reaction from LaVine and coach Fred Hoiberg well.
While Hoiberg said he would’ve preferred LaVine attack the basket, he reasoned not calling a timeout as to not allow the Spurs to insert defensive subs, and the final ‘play’ was going to LaVine regardless.
LaVine had seemingly no problems at all, outside of missing the shot:
“By the way the game was going, I thought I could’ve made it. I’m a confident shooter. I’ve shot that a lot, made a lot of shots like that. I could’ve had an opportunity to go to the hoop. I didn’t want them to double-team me, so I called the pick away.
I made the shots coming off the pick-and-rolls, then they started blitzing. I could’ve done a different play, but you know, it’s comes back to square one – if the ball goes in the hoop, it’s a totally different result. It’s on me. Coach put the confidence in me to make the right play, and I appreciate that. I just got to put the ball in the hoop to get us a win.
Not a very good instance of self-reflection, though I suppose not uncommon among ‘stars’. For one thing, we can safely say LaVine isn’t a “tell the story with the ball in the air” kinda guy. And his assessment of the the actual decision on shot selection is worth noting. A double-team could lead to a pass, maybe he has very little confidence in his teammates...and that is reasonable at the time being. There have also been multiple games this very season where a drive to the rim resulted in game-winning FTs, so it’s odd that he doesn’t cite those as positive alternatives to what he did.
It’s maybe just that LaVine sees as much positive as negative reinforcement when it comes to his difficult shot-making. He’s not right that ‘the game was going’ well...he missed 4 straight shots after making 4. But to be honest there isn’t that much difference in the attempts.
Even with better teammates returning, this will be something to watch as the Bulls have goosed up LaVine as their go-to guy, both in praise and in pay, and he’s taking it to heart.