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White adding finishing kick to his 3-point shooting

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Coby White recently endured a difficult four-game stretch where he shot 3-for-27 from 3-point range.

In the past, that might’ve meant White contributed little to the Chicago Bulls’ two victories in that span.

But between improved defensive play, a stronger awareness for attacking closeouts and some adept finishing, White still averaged 11.8 points and three assists as the Bulls went 2-2.

Over his last two games, both victories, White has shot 7-for-13 from behind the arc. But that’s not what stands out; the Bulls have seen such shooting from him before.

With six assists in Sunday’s victory over the Trail Blazers, White offered more evidence of his ability to not always just be a catch-and-shoot guy. After a quick explosion of three straight 3-pointers early in the second quarter, White adjusted to how the Trail Blazers defended him, consistently driving and either finishing — he shot 2-for-4 in the paint — or spraying out for good looks.

“I say this all the time: When he goes through a tough time, he always looks internally at how to get better,” coach Billy Donovan said.

In his two-plus seasons in Chicago, no player has endured more role changes than White. He has come off the bench, started, come off the bench again, started again. And now he’s coming off the bench behind a rookie in Ayo Dosunmu.

White just stays the course.

“I’m used to it,” he said. “My role changes all the time. I just have to adapt. It ain’t nothing new to me. I’ve been doing it for a while. Whatever the team needs, I’m down to do whatever.”

With the addition of a primary scorer in DeMar DeRozan, this season is all about team-wide sacrifice. Both Zach LaVine and Nikola Vučević have ceded shots. When the team is whole, five guards in White, Dosunmu, LaVine, Alex Caruso and Lonzo Ball vie for minutes.

White just focuses on the work.

He admitted to making improving his finishing at the rim a priority this season. As he worked his way back from offseason shoulder surgery, White would study different angles and work on his touch with assistant coach Chris Fleming.

Between that and his recognition of attacking closeouts — he passed up two 3-pointers on Sunday in search of a drive and either a better shot or an assist — White is evolving.

“There were times last year where he would drive and he could not get all the way to the rim or the backboard and he’d end up shooting these floaters and runners. And those are hard shots to make over 7 footers,” Donovan said. “I think he’s taking the right shots in the lane.”

The numbers bear this out. White is up to 67.2 percent this season at the rim after shooting 55.8 percent last season. And while still needing improvement, he’s at 37.5 percent from 3-10 feet, which is up from last season’s 34.7 percent from that range.

White’s 18 points led a 40-point bench effort on Sunday.

“He’s more mature as player,” Vučević said. “His understanding of the game is easier now. In that second unit, his ability to shoot and create is huge for us."

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