5 observations from Bulls' rally to beat Grizzlies behind LaVine, White


MEMPHIS — The Bulls evened their record at 1-1 with Friday night’s 110-102 victory over the Grizzlies at FedExForum. Here are five observations:

Coby White is a baller

That’s what Jim Boylen calls him, and with good reason. White scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half and continues to play with a fearlessness despite his rookie status. His fourth-quarter 3-pointer gave the Bulls, who once trailed by 14, their first lead of the night.

In one third-quarter stretch, he shoveled a behind-the-back, left-handed pass to Kris Dunn for a layup and scored on a driving layup and hit a 3-pointer to cap a 10-point period.

"He’s confident. He’s a baller. He just plays," Boylen said. "He recognizes situations. He’s learning as we go. He’s getting better. He talks to me during the game. He has positive things to say, comment on. He has suggestions for what we’re doing, which is really cool for a young. I’m thankful he’s playing for us."

Zach LaVine bounced back

Given the focus and ferocity with which he has attacked this season, nobody expected LaVine to struggle for a second straight game. He didn’t.

LaVine scored 10 first-quarter points on his way to 37 overall.

"I missed some easy shots at the beginning of that Charlotte game that would have flipped the whole narrative," LaVine said. "I think in the beginning of the Charlotte game I was a little amped up. I just missed some shots. I had to do better. I got back on the same page (Friday). It’s a new game, and we’ve got to get ready for another monster (Saturday). I’ll be ready."

LaVine sank two free throws with 34.3 seconds left after a huge offensive rebound by Wendell Carter Jr. That pushed the Bulls’ lead to five points.

"I just loved his aggressiveness," Boylen said. "He was confident. He was talking in the huddles: 'We just gotta keep playing, Coach.’ I thought he showed leadership and toughness."

Lauri Markkanen struggled at both ends

Following Thursday’s practice, coach Jim Boylen said Markkanen told him that he can play better despite posting 35 points and 17 rebounds in the opener. Given those lofty numbers, that meant defensively.

Instead, Markkanen struggled with pretty much any matchup he had. He couldn’t contain Jaren Jackson Jr. off the dribble and Jonas Valanciunas often proved too big and strong.

Offensively, Markkanen missed his first seven 3-point attempts and reverted to his preseason play of staying mostly on the perimeter. Markkanen’s big game on Wednesday came against a smallish Hornets’ front line. Boylen acknowledged the Bulls used him differently offensively against the larger Grizzlies frontcourt. But Markkanen finished with nine points and 11 rebounds on 4-for-15 shooting, including 1-for-10 from 3-point range.

The Bulls limited Otto Porter Jr.’s minutes

With the Bulls set for their home opener against the defending NBA champion Raptors Saturday, Porter played just 21 minutes. For the second straight game, he made little impact.

After scoring nine points in the opener, Porter missed five of six shots and finished with four points. Boylen said the plan is to try to play him Saturday.

Kris Dunn played his role again

Dunn teamed with White to again lead a comeback. He now has seven steals in two games and played over 12 straight minutes bridging the third and fourth quarter before ceding to starter Tomas Satoransky.

Dunn's buy-in of his role and chemistry with White is making him a potent reserve in the early going.

"He's playing with a pure heart," Boylen said. "He's having fun. When you have this mindset of, 'whatever you need Coach, I will do,' the game's fun for you. He's not trying to be somebody he's not. He's bright-eyed. He's positive. And he's playing winning basketball."

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