PREVIEW: Chicago Bulls hope hot shooting helps against Los Angeles Clippers

By Field Level Media
Jan 10, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8) is defended by LA Clippers forward Nicolas Batum (33) in the fourth quarter at Staples Center. The Clippers defeated the Bulls 130-127. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bulls will look to follow up on a record-setting performance when they host the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.

Two nights earlier, the Bulls drained a franchise-record 25 3-pointers in a 129-116 win over the New Orleans Pelicans. Zach LaVine and Coby White became the first teammates in league history to make at least eight 3-pointers apiece in the same game.

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“Basketball is full of ups and downs, and you’re never going to please everyone,” White said. “(The 3-point record) means a lot. It was fun, but we’ve got to get back to it. Don’t get too high, don’t get too low.”

Now comes a tough test against the Clippers, who also are seeking back-to-back wins after posting a 119-112 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday. It was the only the second win in the past five games for Los Angeles, which had won 10 of its previous 11.

Kawhi Leonard had 36 points on 13-for-25 shooting, including 5-for-6 from beyond the arc, in Wednesday’s win. Lou Williams added 27 points off the bench on 10-for-15 shooting.

Despite the win, Leonard was not fully happy after the game. He said he and his teammates started too slowly, as evidenced by the Clippers falling behind by 13 points in the first half.

“Our energy coming out in the first quarter was terrible,” Leonard said. “Nobody was focused. Everybody was being lackadaisical.”

A bright spot for the Clippers featured the return of veteran guard Patrick Beverley, who had been sidelined for eight games because of a knee injury. Beverley scored six points and grabbed three rebounds while the coaching staff limited him to 18 minutes as a precaution.

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Next for Beverley is a return to his hometown of Chicago, where he played at John Marshall High School — less than two miles from where the Bulls play on the city’s west side.

Beverley said it felt good to get back on the court.

“Basketball is my sanctuary,” he said. “It’s where I’m at peace.”

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The Bulls remain short-handed as Wendell Carter Jr. (quadriceps), Lauri Markkanen (shoulder) and Chandler Hutchinson (personal reasons) all are out. Meanwhile, veteran Otto Porter Jr. did not play Wednesday because of a back injury, and his status is uncertain.

LaVine and White have helped to carry the load as a dynamic backcourt tandem. LaVine is averaging 28.2 points per game, a career best, and White is averaging 15.5 points in his second season out of North Carolina.

Meanwhile, Bulls rookie Patrick Williams is averaging 10.3 points in 23 games, all starts. Teammates and coaches have been impressed with Williams’ poise despite being only 19.

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The Clippers are led by Leonard (26.5 points per game) and Paul George (24.4 ppg). Then comes a steep drop to the third-leading scorer, Serge Ibaka, who is averaging 11.8 points and 6.6 rebounds in his first season with the club.

This is the second meeting of the season between the teams. In the first matchup Jan. 10, the Clippers earned a 130-127 victory.

–Field Level Media