White's best shot rattles out as Bulls lose in Brooklyn
Making the playoffs would have been nice for the Bulls' development.
But given the choice between getting swept in the first round and Coby White becoming a top-3 player in a solid rookie class by the end of the year, this was the better outcome.
White nearly carried the Bulls to a big comeback in Brooklyn, but his 3-pointer from the top of the key that could have tied the score with eight seconds left rattled around the rim and out. The Bulls lost to the Nets 110-107 on Sunday at the Barclays Center.
"Yeah, I thought it was in," White told reporters after the game. "I thought it was cash. But that happens. It went in and out. That's the best my shot felt all night so I thought it looked good."
White did continue his run of strong play by finishing with 21 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds and no turnovers in 35 minutes. His shot was a little off, but he still managed to score 12 points in the fourth quarter.
Over the last eight games, White has averaged 27 points, 4.4 assists and shot 49% from the field. And he's been getting plenty of defensive attention with Zach LaVine shelved with a left quad strain.
"He's growing every day," coach Jim Boylen said of White. "He's done an unbelievable job of working his habits, being ready to play. He's a competitive guy. He's just growing exponentially every day."
LaVine missed his fourth straight game Sunday but might be back on the floor Tuesday when the Bulls host Cleveland. This is probably the right time to move White into the starting lineup, as he and LaVine are looking more and more like the backcourt of the future.
Another bit of good news was the Bulls got scoring from both Otto Porter and Lauri Markkanen, two players coming back from long injury layoffs. Porter was actually the Bulls' leading scorer with 23 points, while Markkanen finished with 16 and hit 4 of 5 shots from 3-point range.
It was the fourth time this season Porter and Markkanen scored in double figures in the same game, which goes a long way to explain their 21-43 record.
Porter has come off the bench since returning from a foot injury but talked about that being a mutual decision.
"We talked to the trainers, 'What's the best way to bring me back without sitting me down for a long time?'" Porter said. "I know that I need this because I'm trying to work my way back. I'm not trying to jump the gun and just go full all out. This is all planned for my comeback and stuff. Right now it's just taking it one game at a time."
The Bulls trailed by 12 with three minutes left, but they chipped away, with Markkanen, White and Porter hitting 3-pointers to close the gap to 105-102 with 34.2 seconds left.
After an exchange of baskets, the Bulls trapped Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot in the backcourt and he stepped out of bounds for a turnover with 12.9 seconds left. That's when White got a good look at a tying 3 by using a step back against Taurean Prince, but it rattled out.
The Bulls forced 29 turnovers, but committed just 7. Brooklyn (29-34), playing a day after firing coach Kenny Atkinson, had a 35-17 advantage in made free throws and a 50-31 edge in rebounds. Former assistant Jacque Vaughn took over the Nets as interim coach.