Timberwolves coach Saunders raves about LaVine's character

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Minnesota coach Ryan Saunders talked at length before Wednesday's game about the strength of Zach LaVine's character. Saunders was an assistant coach when the Timberwolves drafted LaVine in 2014.

    Minnesota coach Ryan Saunders talked at length before Wednesday's game about the strength of Zach LaVine's character. Saunders was an assistant coach when the Timberwolves drafted LaVine in 2014. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 1/22/2020 9:38 PM

Minnesota coach Ryan Saunders has literally watched Zach LaVine's professional career from Day 1. He talked about his LaVine memories before facing the Bulls on Wednesday.

"There's a lot of things I remember with Zach because Zach is a player I formed a special bond with," Saunders said. "A lot of the things I remember of Zach weren't necessarily basketball things, but how he treated people. He's one of the best guys I've been around at a young age being mature and how he treated people within an organization -- on the business side, fans everyone."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

LaVine was 19 when he was chosen by the Timberwolves with the No. 13 pick of the 2014 draft. His one season at UCLA was very uneven, so LaVine was taking a huge leap when he reached the NBA.

"I remember Zach's opening press conference was at the Minnesota State Fair," Saunders said. "So I remember walking around the state fair with Zach. I remember going to All-Star Weekend and watching Zach participate in the dunk contest, because he was in the gym two days before that in Minnesota practicing his dunks. He was throwing it off the wall, things like that. But more than anything, I just remember how he treated people.

"It tells you that he was going to be successful. Just the way he made people feel and the efforts he gave when he didn't necessarily have to give. He was the first person I saw outside the church at my wedding. He had just gotten traded, but he raced from Chicago and his flight was delayed, but he had to be there. That's a moment that's always going to stick with me about him."

White hits wall:

Bulls rookie Coby White has hit another quiet stretch. Since scoring 23 points against Indiana on Jan. 10, he's hit 5 of 22 attempts from 3-point range (22.7 percent).

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White had four 20-point performances in the first 17 games, but the Indiana game was the only time he's hit 20 points since then. He admitted recently feeling the rookie wall.

"He hit the wall, but he didn't stop working," Bulls coach Jim Boylen said. "I think that's important. I think you have to try to push through. I think as a staff, we managed legs pretty well during this stretch. This is as difficult a stretch as I've been a part of in the league (17 games in 30 days).

"That's hard on a rookie. He played 35 games his senior year in high school and 35 his freshman year in college. Now he's at 45. It's an adjustment, but he's a tough kid and he likes playing. You've just got to work your way though it. I think he's doing good. He's got a really strong family. His mom is a rock and his brother's here to help him."

White did have a nice moment in the first half of Wednesday's game, driving past fellow rookie Jarrett Culver for a lay in. Culver was chosen with the No. 6 pick, one before the Bulls took White.

Carter gets closer:

Center Wendell Carter Jr., who's been out since Jan. 6 with a sprained right ankle, is walking without a limp or a walking boot. He said Wednesday he'll get an MRI next week and hopefully be ready to resume activity.

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