'I've never said we're not running': Boylen just wants Bulls to play smarter

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Bulls head coach Jim Boylen directs his team during overtime of a game Friday against the Indiana Pacers in Chicago. The Bulls' offense has been low-scoring and slow recently, but it seemed better in Friday's 119-116 overtime loss.

    Bulls head coach Jim Boylen directs his team during overtime of a game Friday against the Indiana Pacers in Chicago. The Bulls' offense has been low-scoring and slow recently, but it seemed better in Friday's 119-116 overtime loss. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 1/6/2019 7:28 AM

Some Bulls dreamed of a day when they could again play a fast-paced, high-scoring offense. During much of coach Jim Boylen's tenure, they've been low-scoring and slow.

The offense looked much better Friday against Indiana as the Bulls hit 3-pointers, pushed the pace at times and scored 105 points in regulation. They eventually lost 119-116 in overtime.

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"I think we got in a rhythm early when we were pushing the pace," Zach LaVine said after the game. "We were taking and making 3s. KD (Kris Dunn) did a really good job of pushing the pace. He threw one (lob) up at me when I wasn't even looking. That's on me. I usually am (looking), but we haven't been playing fast, so I've got to make sure I turn my head.

"We slowed it down when we had to, but we played fast. We've got some athletes out there. We should push it at some point."

LaVine scored 17 points in the first quarter, 12 in the fourth and finished with 31. He and Lauri Markkanen combined to hit 9 of 18 shots from 3-point range.

After Saturday's practice at the Advocate Center, Boylen clarified his goals for the offense. Since he took over the head job on Dec. 3, the Bulls have averaged 95.6 points, lowest in the NBA. They reached 100 points Friday for the fourth time in Boylen's 15 games.

"I've asked us to play smarter, I've asked us to play within ourselves. I've never said we're not running," Boylen said. "I've never said that. Our pace into actions needs to improve. Last night I thought it was better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We're in a process offensively where we have to get better at almost everything we do. Within that, if we have an opportunity to run, I'm all for it."

It seemed odd that the Bulls could look pitiful in a 28-point home loss to Orlando on Wednesday, then play well against an Indiana team that has gone 13-2 in its last 15 games.

Point guard Dunn had his best game of the season, piling up 16 points and a career-high 17 assists, to go with just 2 turnovers. Dunn pointed out that playing solid defense and hitting shots makes everything look better.

"When you get defensive stops and get good rebounds, you can get out in transition," Dunn said. "I think we got a little bit of that. In the half court offense, I feel like we had great spacing. That's big in the NBA. We had great spacing, everybody was aggressive and that's what we need."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Bulls are pretty much exactly what everyone expected -- a young, rebuilding team that will look awful at times and show amazing potential other nights. Injuries have probably made their record worse than what it should be.

The youth movement increased this week when Justin Holiday was traded to Memphis and rookie Chandler Hutchison became the starter at small forward. The move had positive results Friday, because Hutchison has a chance to be a more physical, versatile defender than Holiday. And moving Holiday should mean more shots for LaVine, Dunn and Markkanen.

"We want to run smartly," Boylen said. "We'd love to run off turnovers. We'd love to run off long rebounds, but we've got to get the long rebounds, which we haven't. I feel we could do better loose ball-wise, which would help us run more."

The Bulls host Brooklyn on Sunday afternoon in a game unfortunately scheduled during the Bears' playoff game. It's their final date at the United Center before starting a five-game West Coast road trip.

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