Chicago Bulls: Zach LaVine shows his value in loss to Magic

Chicago Bulls Zach LaVine (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Chicago Bulls Zach LaVine (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bulls weren’t able to get a win in Mexico City on Thursday night. Despite a tough loss, Zach LaVine showed just how important he is to this team.

Despite all of the jokes that have been surrounding the Chicago Bulls in the last week or so, they still had business to attend to on Thursday night. They headed down to Mexico City to take on a surprisingly good Orlando Magic team led by Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon.

The Bulls definitely didn’t play their best game, but the energy was there. After a tough week, that’s really all you can ask for.

Chicago was able to hang around all game. After a clutch three from Lauri Markkanen and a defensive stop on the following possession, the Bulls even had a chance to take the lead with about 30 seconds left. Unfortunately, that possession wouldn’t end in a Bulls bucket.

The Magic would get the ball back and score on a fairly simple dribble-hand-off. Nikola Vucevic handed the ball off to Evan Fournier as Fournier curled around the screen. Fournier ended up getting double-teamed which left Vucevic wide open for an easy mid-range jumper. After a Bulls miss on the following possession and some garbage time fouls, the game was over.

The team ended up losing, but much of the focus Thursday night was on individual performances.

Jabari Parker played a mere 4 minutes in the first half and didn’t play at all in the second half. He went scoreless in those 4 minutes. This has led many Bulls fans to believe that a trade is coming. Was this the last time Jabari Parker touches the floor in a Bulls uniform?

Another Bull that had a game to forget was Lauri Markkanen. Outside of his clutch 3-pointer to tie the game up with 1 minute left, Markkanen was basically a no-show. In 28 minutes of play, Markkanen scored 7 points on 2-of-10 shooting from the field. His only field goal makes were from 3-point land. “The Finnisher” has been struggling to do just that since he returned from injury. Let’s not overthink this, though. Markkanen is still one of the best young players in the league and his future is bright. He’s just in a slump.

Let’s switch up our focus and talk about some positive performances.

Justin Holiday continued his strong season with an 18 point, 5 rebound showing. He shot the ball extremely well, going 4-of-5 from deep and also contributed on the defensive end, recording 3 steals. If nothing else, Holiday continues to increase his trade value.

Player of the game: Zach LaVine

Even though Holiday was seemingly the most consistent Bull on the floor, there’s really no debate about who the player of the game was.

Zach LaVine has shown time and time again that he’s the most valuable player on this team and Thursday night in Mexico City was no different. Sure, Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. might have more value going forward, but as far as winning games this season goes, LaVine is the guy that matters most.

LaVine finished the game with 23 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the field and 2-of-3 shooting from 3-point range. He also added 5 assists and 3 rebounds.

Yes, the turnovers need to come down, and yes, the 3-point percentage needs to go up, but LaVine’s ability to create shots for himself and others at any given moment is something the Bulls have desperately needed. Even though LaVine only scored 23 points (“only 23 points” is a weird thing to say), a lot of his buckets came when the Bulls were in a bit of a funk on the offensive end and needed someone to step up.

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For those that thought paying LaVine was the wrong move last summer, it’s pretty obvious that the Bulls had no other choice. Can you imagine how the Bulls would look right now without LaVine?