The Chicago Bulls bid for their season-best third victory in a row on Friday night when they host the Golden State Warriors.
Chicago is coming off back-to-back wins for the first time this season. The Bulls posted a 113-106 road victory over the Sacramento Kings on Monday and recorded a 106-99 home win over the Memphis Grizzlies two nights later.
A major reason for the winning streak, however modest it might be, is Zach LaVine’s dominant performance of late.
LaVine is coming off a 25-point effort against the Grizzlies that included a key fourth-quarter stretch in which he scored or assisted on 13 straight points.
After an inconsistent start to the season, is LaVine finding his groove as the Bulls’ No. 1 option?
“It’s the way I see myself playing,” LaVine told reporters. “I don’t put all this hard work in just to be a regular dude. I expect myself to do this and even more. Whatever I have to do to contribute to winning, if that’s 10 points or if that’s 40, I’m going to do the best I can with it. I’m in a good place right now. I’m trying to stay in it.”
LaVine will look to continue his torrid stretch on Friday versus the Warriors, who own the worst record in the NBA at 4-19.
Golden State has lost four games in a row and seven of the past eight, but the one victory during that stretch was a 104-90 decision over the Bulls.
Warriors rookie forward Eric Paschall finished with a team-high 25 points to go along with seven rebounds in that contest. Alec Burks turned in a dominant all-around effort with 23 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
Despite a flood of injuries and a roster filled with inexperienced players, Golden State coach Steve Kerr said he has enjoyed working with his group this season.
“I think I’ve learned how to be a better coach, honestly,” Kerr recently said to ABC. “I haven’t had to coach in a situation like this and it’s a good reminder that every circumstance is different, every year is different.
“The last five years, we’ve been a championship contender, so it meant that I had to manage the team through the season, prepare for the playoffs and try to get guys rest when we could. This is much more about teaching and developing young players.”
Development also is a key word in Chicago this season.
LaVine’s recent hot streak provides hope that he can develop into the All-Star player that he wants to become.
Lauri Markkanen has been better after a bumpy start to the season, and Wendell Carter Jr. has provided consistent results at both ends of the court with 12 double-doubles in his first 22 games.
“He embraces the dirty-work parts of the game, which we need,” Bulls coach Jim Boylen said of Carter. “He anchors our defense, which he takes pride in, and he’s a developing young offensive player. We’ve tried to give him the ball more, we’ve made a conscious effort to run a few things for him, and he’s responded.”
Chicago is 4-7 at home this season. Golden State is 2-12 on the road.
–Field Level Media