Bulls focus on 3-point shots in first preseason victory
The Bulls won their first preseason game in four tries on Sunday, but it came against a Toronto team that played none of its starters.
So it's hard to take any positives from the 105-91 victory, but there are some strong hints about style of play. But at least they fared better than they did in the preseason opener when they lost to Milwaukee while it rested most of its starters. The Bulls led the Raptors by 36 points late in the third quarter before losing the fourth.
One piece of good news is Zach LaVine continued to score at will. He had 26 points in 25 minutes and has made 11 of 19 shots from 3-point range in three preseason games.
Lauri Markkanen finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds, getting back to the double-double trend he established last year in midseason. Rookie Coby White, with 18 points, continued to fare well in the role of a scorer off the bench. His efficiency (6 of 16 shots) and passing (1 assist) still needs work.
As far as style of play, the Bulls continued to treat the area between the lane and the 3-point arch as a no man's land. They attempted 49 shots from 3-point range in Toronto, which would have been a franchise record had it happened in a regular-season game. The Bulls made 18 of those 49 shots for 36.7 percent.
The starters -- LaVine, Markkanen, Tomas Satoransky and Otto Porter Jr. -- had a good showing, making 11 of 19 shots from 3-point range. The reserves shot 24 percent on Sunday, and made just 5 of 27 from long range on Friday in Indiana when the starters didn't play. Shooting more 3s only makes sense if the Bulls can make at least 35 percent.
Center Wendell Carter Jr. made his preseason debut against Toronto after missing most of training camp with a bruised tailbone. He played 17 minutes, all in the first half, finishing with 2 points, 7 rebounds and a block. He hit 1 of 6 shots.
Carter hadn't played in a game since last Jan. 15 when a torn ligament in his thumb ended his rookie season. The Bulls are counting on Carter to anchor their defense, so keeping him on the floor will be important.
Head coach Jim Boylen mentioned before the game that he'll start using more of a regular season rotation. On Sunday, that meant a second unit of White, Kris Dunn, Ryan Arcidiacono, Thad Young and Luke Kornet. The first 10 did not include rookie center Daniel Gafford, who has been impressive in preseason, or Denzel Valentine. Both of those guys saw action later in the contest.
The Bulls conclude preseason on Thursday with a home game against Atlanta, then open the regular season on Wed., Oct. 23 in Charlotte.
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