White plays well, but Gafford steals show in Bulls' summer debut

Updated 7/5/2019 10:07 PM

The Bulls were the warmup act in their summer-league debut, playing before a large crowd at Thomas & Mack Arena that was mostly waiting for the debut of top draft pick Zion Williamson.

But they made the most of their time on the stage, rolling past the Los Angeles Lakers 96-76 on Friday, while LeBron James watched from the front row. Bulls first-round draft pick Coby White played well, but second-round pick Daniel Gafford stole the show.


Gafford, a 6-11 center from Arkansas, finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks. He was active around the basket, hit 9 of 10 shots from the field and committed just 2 fouls.

This performance was good news for the Bulls, since there will be minutes to be had at the center position now that Robin Lopez signed with Milwaukee.

The Bulls' first bucket of the game was a nice screen-and-roll alley-oop dunk from White to Gafford. White, the 6-5 point guard from North Carolina, scored 17 points, to go with 3 assists, 3 turnovers and 2 steals. He went 0-for-7 from 3-point range.

"I think I played well," White said after the game. "I had some ups and downs throughout the game, but it's always a learning process. At the end of the day, it's always good to get a win."

As a whole, the Bulls struggled from long range, going 0-for-15 from behind the arc until Chandler Hutchison finally connected with 5:12 left in the game. The Bulls finished 1-for-20 on 3-point shots.

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All five starters finished in double figures. Hutchison added 15 points, Shaq Harrison had 14 points and 5 steals, while Adam Mokoka added 10 points and 8 rebounds. Mokoka is a 6-5 guard from France who just signed a two-way contract with the Bulls.

Walt Lemon Jr. led the Bulls with 5 assists off the bench. Justin Simon, a rookie guard from St. John's, had 7 points and 4 steals.

The Bulls jumped out to a 29-14 edge after the first quarter and were never seriously threatened. The Lakers got within 7 points in the fourth quarter, but the Bulls answered with a run to put things away.

The Lakers traded away their best summer-league players to clear cap space, so it's probably safe to say this won't be the toughest matchup of summer league. Forward Zach Norvell Jr. led the Lakers with 15 points.

The Bulls will take a day off before facing Cleveland on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. (ESPN). They'll get a shot at New Orleans and maybe Williamson on Monday at 8:30 p.m. before finishing against Charlotte on Wednesday.

Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls


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