Toronto's Casey beats out Hoiberg for East coach of the month award
Toronto got a win over the Bulls before Wednesday's game even started. Earlier in the day, Raptors coach Dwane Casey was named Eastern Conference coach of the month for December, beating out Fred Hoiberg.
This isn't necessarily a subjective award. Toronto posted the East's best record in December at 11-3. The Bulls made a surprising turnaround, but the month began with the tail end of their 10-game losing streak. So the Bulls were 10-6 in December.
Neither coach was anxious to play up personal achievements before the game.
"It's one month. We're not celebrating anything," Casey said. "But the coaching staff has done a great job of helping getting everyone ready, especially the young guys."
Casey praised the medical staff for getting rookie OG Anunoby ready to play. Anunoby tore the ACL in his right knee last year on Jan. 18 while playing in college for Indiana, but has played in every game for the Raptors this season and was a starter on Wednesday.
Asked before the game about quieting the doubts about his coaching ability, Hoiberg deflected all praise.
"I'm really proud of this group, how they have made significant improvement as the season has gone on," he said, "weathered the very tough start and found a way to play some really good basketball this last month."
LaVine inches closer:
Zach LaVine will reach the end of his personal six-day training camp on Thursday when he practices with the Bulls. He worked out with the G-League's Windy City Bulls the previous four days.
Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said LaVine will go on this weekend's road trip to Dallas and Indiana, participating in the shootarounds and walk-throughs. At that point, it will be time to make a decision.
"When we get back, we'll meet as a group and make the decision on when he'll be back," Hoiberg said. "He is anxious (to play). I think it's just a matter of sitting down with doctors and trainers, management and the coaches, and figuring out what the best day for Zach to get back out there, and hopefully make an impact, get back out there for the remainder of the season. So there are a lot of things that will come up in that conversation."
If LaVine is going on the road trip, it means he won't suit up for the Windy City Bulls next Saturday at the Sears Centre, which had been mentioned as a possibility. It sounds like the first chance of LaVine playing would be Monday when the Bulls host Houston. They play again two days later at New York.
Dunn will keep role:
Minnesota experimented with Zach LaVine at point guard early in his NBA career, but that's not in Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg's plans.
"I think Zach's natural position is the two," Hoiberg said. "He's a natural shooting guard, where Kris (Dunn) is the guy who obviously has the ball in his hands a lot. I think they'll complement each other.
"Kris has shown a very good feel for throwing the ball ahead and getting our fast break started where we can attack on the wings, and I think that's what Zach brings as much as anything. A type of player that is a guy on the throw-ahead, can attack the basket, shoot the three in transition. He can do a lot of things. So I think Kris and Zach complement each other a lot."