Bulls’ Zach LaVine upset with being benched for final four minutes of loss to Magic: ‘You play a guy like me’


The Orlando Magic won 108-107 against the Chicago Bulls on Friday night thanks to last-second heroism from Jalen Suggs. At one point, the Magic went up 19, but collapsed in the second half to be four behind with less than 30 seconds left in the game. Suggs then converted two free throws to close the gap to two before adding 3 to win and save the Magic from an embarrassing loss.

The game’s interesting subplot – Zach LaVine remaining on the bench for the last four minutes of the fourth quarter – became the main story after a press conference filled with double-All-Star disappointments. LaVine, who hit 1 for 14 in the game, criticized Bulls head coach Billy Donovan for the decision.

“I need to work better early in the game to make shots, but you play a guy like me throughout the game.” LaVine said. This is what I do. Do I like the solution? No. Should I live with this? Yeah. Get ready to put on your shoes and play the next game.

“Just ask him what his decision was, what made him think that way. Obviously he wanted to go with the other guys, I didn’t have the best night shot, but it was hard.”

LaVine, who signed a five-year, $215 million extension this summer and also underwent arthroscopic knee surgery, has struggled to find his place this season. He was ill-suited for the team’s first two games and has since missed several competitions. When he played, his shots missed the mark. Over 12 games, he’s averaging 20.7 points on 41.5 percent shooting from the field, numbers that are close to his worst in five years.

Friday night’s exit was a new low. LaVine’s four points were the fewest points he has scored in a full game since 2018 — he had zero points against the Golden State Warriors last season, but he left that game after four minutes and his field goal percentage is 7. 1 was his worst result in the entire game. where he fired at least 10 shots for every Stathead.

When Donovan made the decision to send LaVine to the bench in favor of Ayo Dosunma, the Bulls were still four points behind. They quickly turned that deficit on its head and it looked like Donovan’s decision would pay off until the disastrous last few seconds. However, Donovan stood his ground.

“I feel like it’s my job, my responsibility at times like this, to try and make the best decisions for the team,” Donovan said. “And I thought it was the best decision at the time. To me, I don’t look at it as anything other than a one-off game where this happens. I know he wanted to be there. probably not many games in his career where [LaVine] wasn’t there at the time, but this band played well and it gave us a chance.”

The Bulls lost four games in a row and fell to 6-10 on the season, which saw them not even making the play-in in the deep Eastern Conference. With the top two teams in the East, the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks, next on the schedule, the Bulls will need LaVine to step up if they want to avoid an even longer drift.

Source: www.cbssports.com