Monthly award validates White's recent improvement
Bulls guard Coby White was named the Eastern Conference rookie of the month for February, ending the streak of Chicago native Kendrick Nunn, the Miami Heat guard who won the honor in November, December and January.
The was a similar change in Western Conference rookie of the month, where New Orleans forward Zion Williamson won the award for the first time, after Memphis' Ja Morant won three in a row.
A look at the leading rookie scorers in February shows how much White has improved. Williamson ranks first at 25.7 points per game, White is second with 20.1, followed by Morant at 18.7, Nunn 14.5 and Golden State's Eric Paschall 14.3.
Rookie of the month is minor news, but it does continue a run of better news for the Bulls. During a season filled with injuries and disappointing play, White brought some positive signs with his three straight games of scoring at least 33 points. On Monday, White scored a team-high 19 points as the Bulls beat Dallas 109-107 at the United Center.
The last two Bulls home games were two of their better performances of the season, a narrow loss to Oklahoma City and then their second win all season over a team with a winning record. Those performances happened with key players out of the lineup, while others returned from injuries.
"Well I think it's a credit to our guys and their character of handling adversity and tough moments and staying with it," coach Jim Boylen said Tuesday at the Advocate Center. "I've said all along our practice habits are good.
"I think it's a credit to my staff. I think it's a credit to a system at both ends that we've established. We're plugging guys into a system that we've done for four or five months instead of changing the system for the guys and I think that's important. You're seeing benefit from that."
Mokoka time running out:
Another positive from Monday's win over Dallas was the play of two-way player Adam Mokoka. He guarded Mavs star Luka Doncic in the fourth quarter, when Doncic scored just two of his 23 points.
Doncic is nursing a thumb injury, so it's too soon to declare Mokoka a defensive stopper. But he did a nice job of crawling into Doncic and has a little more size than 6-4 Shaq Harrison, which seemed to help.
One issue is two-way players are limited to spending 45 days with the parent NBA club. Boylen said Mokoka has nine days left. He wasn't with the Bulls during Tuesday's practice at the Advocate Center.
"He's getting close," Boylen said. "He has nine left and we'll do our best to manage him appropriately. So it's dicey right now. It's tight."
LaVine streak ends:
Zach LaVine talked about missing out on his goal of playing in all 82 games this season. He'll probably end up missing at least three or four games with a left quad strain.
"Man, it stinks," he said Tuesday. "Because I played through more painful things already this year, it's just that I don't think they were as severe. Once I got the MRI back -- you know, if that would've came back clean, if it was just like. 'You have discomfort,' I probably would've played through it."