Coming off the heels of an unexpected overtime victory against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Chicago Bulls appeared to be playing much better as a unit and possibly even be in the process of building some positive momentum. Granted, this was just one game without the Bulls' stars around to lead the team, so I didn't want to overreact and get my hopes too high.
For better or worse, we'd get another chance to see how the Bulls would fare without Zach LaVine last night, as he'd miss his second consecutive game due to right foot soreness. Chicago hosted the 11-9 New Orleans Pelicans, a matchup that would not be easy now that Zion Williamson would be making a healthy return to their starting rotation.
Williamson would put on a dominant showing, scoring 27 points and shooting 66.7% from the field, but it wouldn't be enough to put away the Bulls. Chicago managed to defend their homecourt in another narrow victory, thanks to a well-balanced team effort in the third quarter where the Bulls outscored the Pelicans 36-21.
The Bulls (and Coby White) are looking better than ever without Zach LaVine.
Coby White was undoubtedly the star of the show last night, rising to the occasion to fill the void left in LaVine's absence. White scored a game-high 31 points on a hyper-efficient 10-for-17 shooting performance that included a stunning 8 triples, while also contributing 9 rebounds and 6 assists. Not only was this the best game of Coby's career to date, but I also found it particularly impressive that he managed to accomplish it even with DeMar DeRozan returning to the starting lineup.
I think it's also important to acknowledge that DeMar played well, as he proved he's willing to take a backseat for the betterment of the team — something I'm not sure we can say for LaVine. DeRozan still managed to score 24 points on 10-for-18 shooting, but I found it admirable that he prioritized facilitating the offense and setting his teammates up with a game-high 10 assists.
Since DeMar sat out the overtime win over the Bucks, it was impossible to know if he'd fit seamlessly with this younger, more energetic lineup. Fortunately, Chicago looked better than ever with DeMar in a similar role as the one he played in San Antonio. As a result, the Bulls submitted a much more balanced performance as a team — with Patrick Williams notably stringing together two strong performances in a row despite his three-point shooting not falling the way he'd like it to.
LaVine was announced to be missing at least the next week of games on December 1 due to right foot soreness. The Bulls don't play again until December 7 against the Charlotte Hornets, and then again on the road against the San Antonio Spurs on December 9. How those games pan out may ultimately decide the fate of LaVine and the rest of this roster moving forward.