White catches fire, leads Bulls past Knicks
This was almost like a homesick college student receiving a care package from home.
Bulls rookie Coby White has been struggling with his shot since the first two games of the season, but Tuesday he was visited by Roy Williams, his college coach at North Carolina.
Williams wasn't just passing through. He said he canceled his own team's practice so he could fly to Chicago and watch the Bulls play the Knicks at the United Center.
It wasn't like White was homesick, but he needed something to cure his shooting slump. And he snapped out of it in a big way during the fourth quarter, hitting 7 of 8 shots from 3-point range and leading the Bulls past the Knicks 120-102.
According to basketball-reference.com, White is the youngest player to make 7 3-pointers in an NBA game.
"He watches me play. He notices it," White said of Williams. "He just told me don't get in my own head. It's almost like when you miss that first one, it's like, 'Here we go again.' He knows what I'm capable of and he believes in me. Ever since I set foot on campus, he always believed in me, he always gave me confidence."
White had made just 3 of his previous 29 shots from 3-point range, dating back to Nov. 1, and was shooting just 21.2 percent from behind the arch on the season.
It didn't take much to light the fire, though. A minute into the fourth quarter, White drained a 3 to put the Bulls ahead 90-89. He went on to hit six in a row, missed one, then added a seventh. He set a franchise record for most 3-pointers in a half.
White scored 23 points in the fourth quarter alone and finished with 27. He ended the night going 7-for-11 from 3-point range.
"Once I hit that first one, it was a relief," White said. "There's been a couple games where I haven't hit a 3 and I've been shooting it real terrible. But it was relief to see that first one go in. it was almost like a weight lifted off my shoulders."
To recap, the Bulls went from down 2 to up 20 thanks to a 22-0 run that included six 3-pointers from White, a Kris Dunn fast break and Thad Young tip-in.
"I thought the beauty in Coby's game is he let it come to him," coach Jim Boylen said. "But also, we found him. We honored what he was doing. We kept feeding him, we kept getting him, we kept finding him. I think that's what good teams do."
White wouldn't mind if Williams made it to every game, but he doesn't expect his former coach to retire anytime soon. Inside the Bulls locker room, White turned it into an impromptu recruiting pitch for any players considering North Carolina.
"He just came all the way out here to come to this game," White said. "Not too many college coaches of his caliber, on a weeknight, there's not too many coaches that would do that for a player. He just told me if I be Coby, everything else will take care of itself."
The Bulls' second unit actually got things going in the first half, with the three-guard lineup of White, Dunn and Ryan Arcidiacono building a 12-point advantage. Dunn finished the night with 13 points and 3 steals before fouling out.
Zach LaVine rolled his right ankle when he landed awkwardly after a driving lay-in the fourth quarter, but he kept playing and seemed to be fine. He finished with 25 points and 6 assists. Center Wendell Carter Jr. added 17 points and 12 rebounds.
For the Knicks (2-9), Bobby Portis started his night by hitting a tough bank shot over Carter, then Portis got a technical foul for woofing at Carter on the way back down the court. He scored just the 2 points in the first half and finished with 7 points.
Taj Gibson, another former Bull toiling in New York, poured in a season-high 17 points, while Marcus Morris led the Knicks with 22.