DALLAS – One thing that Bulls’ fans have been used to early in the season is a lot of scoring from two of their players – Zach LaVine and Coby White.
The former is fourth in the NBA in scoring with 28.3 points per game while the latter has been putting up 17.7 per contest. They’ve led the way for the team that’s held their own all season long, but have mostly been on the wrong end of the score.
That’s especially been the case in the four games the Bulls’ played before their contest with the Mavericks Sunday afternoon. In those losses, the total margin of victory was just eleven points, with the team unable to convert chances at the end.
But Billy Donovan watched his team get back in the win column on Sunday, and they did so thanks to players not wearing No. 0 or No. 8.
Lauri Markkanen got 29 points to lead all scorers, but the players on the bench ended up making the biggest difference. Those players got 61 combined point on the evening, which made up for LaVine scoring just ten and White getting shutout in a 117-101 win over the Mavericks.
The balance is a big reason the Bulls were able to maintain their double-digit lead built in the first half the entire way at the American Airlines Center. On Friday, a 22-point lead got away from the team, but that wasn’t going to happen today.
For Donovan, seeing the Bulls not only grab a lead but maintain it without their major scorers doing much is a great lesson for his group.
“A lot of times guys I think rely ‘I need to impact the game by scoring. I have to score for us to win.’ It’s really not true,” said Donovan. “It should be a satisfying thing for a lot of those guys because they didn’t have big scoring nights and our team played really, really well. I think we had over 30 assists in the game, I think we scored 68 points in the first half.
“If we play as a team and move the basketball and generate the best shot for the group, it’s gonna help.”
On Sunday, it certainly did, and it showed the potential of a veteran Bulls’ bench to make a solid contribution. Garrett Temple has 21 points to lead the group that scored 61 on Sunday, with Thaddeus Young getting 15 points with Otto Porter Jr. 14.
“I told the bench that we could be the best bench in the league because of the experience, the talent coming off the bench and our team is going to need the bench to play well because we have such a young unit,” said Temple. “There’s going to be times where we have to help them out.
“The game tonight was great to show that.”
Indeed they did, doing so without much from their top two scorers.