White shows Bulls how it's done, scores 31 in victory over Pelicans

Before Saturday's game against New Orleans, Bulls coach Billy Donovan spoke for several minutes about one of his players, lavishly offering praise.

Donovan was talking about Coby White, who has been a bright spot for the Bulls. It also would have made sense if Donovan were talking about the Bulls' wish list for Zach LaVine.

"Anything you throw at him, he does not buck at," Donovan said of White. "There's never any excuses. I really think with young players, the guys to me that make the biggest jump are the ones that internally evaluate and self-evaluate.

"I think when you've got guys that are looking around at all the reasons why, and they don't look inward first, I always think that's difficult to grow."

With LaVine sidelined by right foot soreness, White led the Bulls to their second straight victory, 124-118 over the New Orleans Pelicans at the United Center. Fans chanted, "Coby, Coby" at one point during the fourth quarter.

White scored 28 of his 31 points in the second half and tied a career high by knocking down eight 3-pointers on 13 attempts. For the second straight game, the Bulls hustled, shared the ball and seemed to be having fun. They finished with 32 assists, tying a season high, for the second game in a row.

DeMar DeRozan returned from one game off with an ankle sprain to produce 24 points and 10 assists. Alex Caruso scored 8 points in the first half, then did not play in the second due to a lingering toe injury. Ayo Dosunmu and Torrey Craig added 15 points each.

White broke open a tie game by knocking down consecutive 3-pointers midway through the fourth quarter, then sealed the win with an alley-oop to Patrick Williams with 20.1 seconds left. Zion Williamson led New Orleans with 27 points.

After signing a relatively modest three-year, $36 million contract over the summer, White took on the role of point guard and has blossomed this season, especially the last few games.

"He definitely wanted to be the player he showed he is tonight," DeRozan said. "His drive, his work ethic is definitely amazing. He always asks questions, he's always listening. He always wants to figure out how to he can be better."

For his part, White didn't have any particular vision of the player he expected to be in the NBA after playing one year in college at North Carolina.

"My main objective was to just get better every day, take it one day at a time," White said. "I knew coming into the league I had a lot to learn, I had a lot of room to grow. So I've never been a guy like, 'Man, one day I'm going to be this, I'm going to be that.'

"I just took it as I'm just trying to get better every day, take advantage of every day and do what I need to stay consistent."

Following the victory, Donovan thanked White for making him look good after all the kind pregame words.

"He's about winning," Donovan added. "A lot of times young players are so consumed about minutes. I think since I've been with him, that's really shifted to, 'How can I impact winning?' That's really important to him. I love being around the guy."

Donovan was also asked if the foot injury is a reason why LaVine's numbers are down this season. LaVine sat out the Nov. 22 game at Oklahoma City because of that issue, then played in the next three. He went 1-for-9 from the field for 2 points in his most recent appearance against Boston.

"He's always tried to play through that stuff," Donovan said. "But I think the feeling was from the medical staff, just trying to get it completely resolved."

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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