White makes mistakes, but leads Bulls to victory over Cavs

Too much hand sanitizer, maybe? Made the ball slippery.

Bulls rookie Coby White made some mistakes while piling up 9 turnovers in his first NBA start on Tuesday. Before the game, he admitted to being a bit of a germaphobe who washes his hands obsessively at times.

Despite the miscues, White was able to lead the Bulls to a 108-103 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers at the United Center. He finished with a team-high 20 points, along with 5 assists and 5 rebounds.

"It was exciting," White said. "It was good to get a win in my first one. It's a blessing to be starting in the NBA."

It's been a long time since Bulls fans heard, "From North Carolina ..." during pregame introductions. That phrase probably doesn't mean much to White, who was born in 2000, after the Bulls' championship run ended. But to longtime Bulls fans, it's special thanks to Michael Jordan.

"I thought Coby was a two-way player tonight," coach Jim Boylen said. "I thought he showed his burst. A guy that big that can run that fast ... he made that play where he went to his left and got down the lane so quickly after a time out. I said to my coaches, 'That looked like (former Rockets guard) Steve Francis with that burst.'"

Cleveland was led by second-year guard Collin Sexton with 26 points. The two young guards helped make it a fast-paced game.

"They call (Sexton) 'Young Bull' for a reason," White said. "He always comes out and attacks whoever he plays against and tonight it was me. I played and worked out against him during the summer, so I know what type of guy he is and I was ready for it."

The game was tied at 83-83 early in the fourth quarter when the Bulls finally put together a run. A 3-point play from Otto Porter, corner 3-pointer by Denzel Valentine, then another 3 by Tomas Satoransky off a pass from White made it 94-85 with 6:54 remaining.

But after the lead reached 10 points, the Cavs got within 2 twice in the final two minutes. The first time, Wendell Carter Jr. drew a foul and hit both free throws. Then off a White miss, Harrison came flying in for the offensive rebound and was fouled. He hit both shots to put the Bulls ahead 107-103 with 13.2 seconds left.

The Bulls won the rebound battle for the first time in six games, but it was still the guards doing most of the work. Harrison was the game's leading rebounder with 10, while Satoransky had 8.

Satoransky started the first 64 games of the season at point guard, but insisted he had no problem with moving to a bench role.

"I respected that because I kind of expected it also," Satoransky said. "Because I think it was logical the way I've been playing since the all-star break and the way Coby's been playing, I think that's just a logical step. You just have to respect it. Sometimes that happens to you as a player."

Carter had his best game since returning from an ankle sprain, with 17 points and 6 rebounds. Porter, Valentine and Lauri Markkanen scored 15 points each.

On Sunday in Brooklyn, White had no turnover in 35 minutes of action, so the high turnovers against Cleveland may not be worth worrying about.

"I had the ball in my hands a lot tonight," he said. "It was unacceptable for a point guard. At the end of the day, we got the win. So I've got to stay focused and take care of the ball."

Despite the nationwide coronavirus concerns, a decent crowd showed up at the United Center, announced at 17,837.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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