LaVine scores 30, veterans come up big in overtime win
The Bulls also got 37 points from their bench in the win.
Remind Me Later •
Zach LaVine scored 30 points, the Bulls got double-digit scoring efforts from Thad Young, Tomas Satoransky, and Denzel Valentine off the bench, and Wendell Carter Jr had a near double-double in his return as the Bulls secured the 120-112 overtime win against the Indiana Pacers. Domantas Sabonis led the Pacers with 25 points and ten rebounds, but also eight turnovers. Chicago improved to 11-15.
Success in the NBA isn't about being reserved. Though it can be about having the right players in reserve.
The Bulls did Monday. And while Zach LaVine got the Bulls to the finish line against the Indiana Pacers with 30 points, it was the veteran reserves led by Thad Young who pushed the Bulls across in a 120-112 overtime victory.
Young, the attractive free agent the Bulls attracted from Indiana, had 13 points and 11 rebounds. Which was just a small part of his impact, which included luring Pacers into another pair of offensive fouls. And probably the crucial sequence of the game when Young tipped in a LaVine miss in overtime for a 112-107 Bulls led, the wily 6-8 Young getting to the ball first between three Pacers, including 6-11 towers Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner. Then Young battled the Indiana high scorer, Sabonis with 25 points, fronting him and knocking away a deep post pass for a turnover that enabled the Bulls to begin to raise the checkered flag to victory.
Start your engines, Bulls?
The Bulls, 11-15, with their third win in the last five also got 16 points from Garrett Temple, 13 points from Tomas Satoransky and 11 points from Denzel Valentine in Wendell Carter Jr.'s return from a quad injury. Carter had 11 points and nine rebounds as the Bulls reserves at 37-19 had the Hoosiers watching disappearing tail lights. "Thad has been, for me personally, the MVP of the team," said LaVine. "He does a little bit of everything. He can damn near average a triple double. He makes up for our mistakes. Defensively he guards the best big man each and every night. Even if he's undersized he knows how to play tricks with them. He's been great for us and tonight he showed that with crucial plays, getting charges, rebounds and things like that, being physical. He's the type of guy you love to have on your team.
"Sato is one of the highest IQ players on the team," LaVine added. "He knows how to play multiple positions. He calms the team down when he gets in the game. He's starting to get his legs under him. He's shooting the ball well. He's made some big plays. And then GT, he's a vet, man. He knows exactly what to do. He gets physical. He makes clutch shots. In the fourth quarter he made a big pullup. Denzel has been great. Obviously, I think we all know Denzel's confidence and how he helps the team with his IQ and his shotmaking, too. So I think we're coming together."
It did almost come apart again after the Bulls had an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter. Talk about Hoosier daddies—or Who's Your Daddy, as Pedro Martinez might say—it's been the Bulls I-65 neighbors, who had won 10 straight against the Bulls and eight straight in Indianapolis. Including that second game of this season embarrassment back in the United Center.
"First time we played them they came into Chicago and they punched us in the mouth," said LaVine. "I was talking to a couple of the coaching staff and saying I thought we also owed them one from here last year. We were prepared for the game."
LaVine seems always to be prepared these days with his 12th game scoring at least 30 points, joining only Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard and Stephen Curry with at least a dozen. Talk about All-Star company.
And as great as those players are as shotmakers, they may not have made one like LaVine did with 27 seconds left in regulation for a 104-103 Bulls lead. LaVine would miss one of two free throws afterward and a 19 footer at the regulation buzzer. Though the Bulls would have been smothered in the fourth if not for LaVine scoring 12 of the team's last 15 points in the last six minutes of regulation.
LaVine would need only two points late in overtime after Valentine and Temple made the big shots of the extra five. High five!
"Our bench, most of us were starters in our careers," noted Satoransky. "We just know how to play and how to bring that energy and knowledge to the game."
While LaVine brings the amazing.
It looked like yet another heartbreak against the Pacers with Malcolm Brogdon putting back his own miss with 46.5 seconds left for a 103-101 Indiana lead. There were 13 lead changes and ties in that fourth quarter, though the Bulls were in the lead most of the quarter and 81-70 early.
LaVine, after that Brogdon score, got the ball full court and dribbled deliberately into the front court. Former Bull Justin Holiday was defending as LaVine bounced down the clock while standing on the Pacers' logo near center court. Valentine came up to set a screen with about 12 seconds on the shot clock, but LaVine waved him off to avoid the trap.
Temple then came up to screen with about seven seconds on the clock and Sabonis switched. But the big man got in front as LaVine slid to his right and pulled up for the shot. Sabonis was square with LaVine and reached his 6-11 arms straight into LaVine's face. Talk about blocking out the sun. There seemed no way LaVine could even see the rim.
The ball settled in easily for the three and lead.
"Yeah," LaVine said when asked if he saw the rim. "When I sidestepped I got a good look on it. I think his closeout made it look a little bit more contested than I thought it was."
But the Pacers did make the Bulls sweat in this one even as the Bulls matched Indiana's engines. As they might say there, the Bulls finally washed their hands of the Pacers. Indiana is now 14-14 and the Bulls 11-15.
"We matched their physicality," said LaVine. "It was a tough game for both teams to score. I think we just stuck with it and executed down the stretch a lot better than we have been before and that's what it takes to win games."
This one, however, was more reminiscent of 1990s Bulls/Pacers than 2021.
The Bulls led 24-21 after one quarter and 49-44 at halftime. Hardly anyone switched and fought over screens. It especially helped the Bulls that Carter returned; not so much Sabonis, who missed nine times inside five feet and committed eight turnovers. Brogdon added 23 points, but the Bulls outrebounded the taller Pacers 60-47 and had 25 second chance points. Young had five offensive rebounds. Twenty-one feet of Pacers in Sabonis, Turner and Goga Bitadze combined for one.
Talk about the Davises, Antonio and Dale, rolling over in their graves.
"Sabonis, he's a very physical player," agreed Carter, who drew a flagrant Sabonis elbow to the face. "Hit him first. He loves to get into your body. He's not the highest jumper on the court, so he likes to get into your body so he can get his angles. You've just gotta hit him first. And when you hit him first, you can kinda control what you want him to do. I went out there to try to fluster him, try to get him off his pivot foot, get him out of his game. Just gotta be able to hit him first and then make him finish over length."
It proved effective as the Pacers were the shorterhanded one this time with Doug McDermott out with knee soreness. The Pacers have been without scorers T.J. Warren and Caris LeVert from the Victor Oladipo trade. Lauri Markkanen and Otto Porter Jr. remained out for the Bulls, though Carter made an early return. He said a platelet-rich plasma shot expedited the healing.
Both teams shot below 40 percent in the first half and combined for seven of 29 on threes, the Pacers two of 14. How about those good ‘ol days?
Though this one should have drew a smile from the veterans, which perhaps motived the Bulls 30s. Coby White had a stumbling start and even an eight-second violation with T.J. McConnell pressing him in the backcourt. White snapped out of it in the second half and had 19 points. The Pacers also are active with their hands, forcing the ball off rookie Patrick Williams numerous times as the Bulls had 19 turnovers. Hey, were those 90s that much fun?
The Bulls got some space in the third quarter and an early 58-47 lead on White's shooting. The Pacers grabbed the lead back at 67-64 late in the third, though this time with big threes from Temple and Satoransky the Bulls got back ahead 79-70 after three.
"I think we're a pretty tough team," said LaVine. "We fight and we're getting used to playing with each other."
The Bulls closed the third quarter with a 15-3 run as coach Billy Donovan opted for using small lineups throughout much of the second half with Young at center and even LaVine at power forward sometimes. Luke Kornet replaced Daniel Gafford, and though the title used Kornet missed all five of his threes, he also played well against Sabonis with his size.
Satoransky had a crucial three early in the fourth quarter and White a tough baseline runner with the Pacers closing. Still, it had all the earmarks of another valiant Bulls try as LaVine took on hordes of Pacers down the stretch. Temple made a vital three in the midst of Zach's attacks on a nice ball swing from Young to White to Satoransky to Temple.
Then there was LaVine's did-you-see-that three and the unavailing last regulation attempt before the Bulls had the timing to take over in the overtime. Plenty in reserve, as it turned out.
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