Zach LaVine helped the Chicago Bulls quickly flip the script against the Orlando Magic.
A day after LaVine — despite finishing with 26 points — scored only two points over the first three quarters during a 123-119 loss to the Magic, he finished with 39 points on 16-for-25 shooting in a 118-92 win on Saturday.
“(Coach Billy Donovan) wanted us to go out there and try to blow these guys out. Message received,” LaVine said. “I think the way that we played definitely represented what he wanted us to do.”
LaVine, who is averaging 27.0 points, will clash with the NBA’s top scorer in Bradley Beal when the Bulls host the Washington Wizards on Monday night.
Beal is averaging 33.3 points per game and scored 31 points on Sunday in a 119-97 loss to the Hornets in Charlotte.
But the Wizards dropped their second game in a row after falling behind by 21 in the first half as six Hornets scored in double figures led by Terry Rozier (26 points) and Gordon Hayward (25 points).
“Teams are attacking players and we have to step up and take the challenge and make them miss shots and not get beat by one or two-dribble drives and those are the things that are bothering us right now,” Washington coach Scott Brooks said.
Beal rebounded from a 1-for-14 shooting performance on Friday against the Miami Heat by going 11-for-22 from the field and 3-for-9 from 3-point range against the Hornets.
Robin Lopez had 14 points off the bench as Washington’s reserves outscored Charlotte’s bench 43-30. Russell Westbrook just barely missed his sixth triple-double of the season with 12 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
The Wizards shot a dismal 9-for-40 (22.5 percent) from the 3-point line.
“We have to have some pride, some dog (in us),” Beal said. “We kind of let teams walk over us. We got our butts kicked twice in a row and that is never appealing to anybody…It’s tough because I can’t do it for guys, I can only do it for myself.”
The Bulls beat Orlando despite missing Lauri Markkanen (19.1 points, 6.1 rebounds per game), who sat out with a right shoulder injury. Chicago was already missing Otto Porter (back) and Wendell Carter Jr. (quad contusion).
Denzel Valentine got the start and finished with 20 points — his most since March 2018.
“(Coach Donovan) just said if we want to be ‘a playoff team’ and take our team to the next level, which we have the ability to do, then we needed to come out and show it,” Valentine said. “Nobody is going to just give it to us because we’ve had the same team.”
Coby White had 13 points — all in the third quarter when he shot 5-for-5 from the field — and rookie Patrick Williams finished the game with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Thad Young was 5-for-10 shooting and finished with 11 points.
“When the game started tonight, we maintained a pretty high level of focus and concentration,” Donovan said. “Doesn’t mean we’re going to be perfect, we can’t do everything right, but I really thought the attention to detail and their focus and the way they worked on the things that we talked about trying to do better in this game, they really did a great job.”
–Field Level Media