Rookie White steps forward to push Bulls past Memphis
It took two games for the Bulls to scrap the original plan and turn to a youth movement.
Rookie guard Coby White scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half at Memphis on Friday. Zach LaVine poured in 37 and the Bulls recovered from a sluggish start to post their first victory of the season with a 110-102 win at FedEx Forum.
"I told you all from the jump, I know how good he's going to be," LaVine told reporters after the game. "He helped us big-time tonight. I told him, he's in that second unit, it's go time. Then when we step on the floor together, we're dynamic. It's going to be exciting man. I really like him."
White is usually the Bulls' first player off the bench. Friday, he played the entire fourth quarter and logged more court time than any Bull in the second half. White hit 8 of 11 shots after halftime, 4 of 6 from 3-point range and also threw the best pass. He picked up a loose ball and went behind the back to Kris Dunn for an open layup.
After the game, White was asked if he felt reluctant to keep putting up shots, considering he's a rookie playing his second NBA game.
"Nah, if I feel like it's a good shot for me, I take it," White said with a smile. "I have high expectations for myself. I always feel that I can play better. Tonight I feel like I could have played better. I had a slow first half. I want to be good in this league, so I know that's what it's going to take."
LaVine and White were the only players who reached double-figures for the Bulls. In the first half, there was minimal ball movement and they trailed by as many as 14 points. The Bulls didn't take their first lead of the night until a White 3-pointer gave them a 95-94 lead with 3:54 remaining.
"I thought we pulled together, I think we gritted our teeth," head coach Jim Boylen said. "We executed down the stretch. I thought we learned some lessons from the other night (a loss at Charlotte) in the fourth quarter. I thought our poise was good."
Lauri Markkanen had a big game against Charlotte's undersized power forwards Wednesday. But he was outplayed by Memphis' Jaren Jackson Jr. for most of this one. Markkanen finished with 9 points, 11 rebounds and shot 1-for-10 from 3-point range. Jackson had 23 points and 11 boards.
For the second-straight game, Dunn played more in the second half than starting point guard Tomas Satoransky, while forward Otto Porter Jr. was barely visible, finishing with 4 points and 3 rebounds.
Boylen said before the game Porter would be limited to 24 minutes on Friday, since it was the first leg of back-to-back games. Porter played 21. Asked why a 26-year-old needs a minutes limit, Boylen wasn't specific.
"That's what's best for him, and that's what's best for the team, which is also best for him," he said. "We'll evaluate him after the game if he does play (Saturday). Our goal is to have him play both nights, but I don't want to promise a second night until we get there."
Memphis rookie guard Ja Morant, the No. 2 overall pick after Zion Williamson, finished with 10 points, 5 assists and 3 steals.
It's still early, but White is making it seem like he wants to be included in the rookie of the year race.
"It was a team win," White said. "I was just one little piece of it. We got it done as a team tonight. We faced adversity and in the second half we bounced back. I was doing what I can to provide any type of spark from off the bench."
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Scouting reportBulls vs. Toronto Raptors, 7 p.m. at the United Center
Radio: WSCR 670-AM
Outlook: The Raptors received their championships rings on Tuesday before beating New Orleans. PF Pascal Siakam and SG Fred VanVleet were the stars of Toronto's season opener, scoring 34 points each against the Pelicans. ... Former Indiana forward OG Anunoby is filling the small forward slot vacated by Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. ... The Raptors lost 112-106 at Boston on Friday. ... The Bulls have yet tp beat Toronto in the rebuilding era, losing nine in a row in the series overall.
Next: New York Knicks on Monday, 6 p.m. at Madison Square Garden
-- Mike McGraw