Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine sat on the bench for the final 3:43 of Friday night’s 108-107 loss to the Orlando Magic. After the game, he spoke of coach Billy Donovan’s decision.
“I had to do a better job of making my shots early in the game, but you play a guy like me,” LaVine said.
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Zach LaVine: Do I like not playing late in the game? No, even if I don’t shoot, I think I should be there. But that’s Billy’s call.
— Joshua M. Hicks (@joshmhicksmedia) November 19, 2022
“That’s what I do,” the bullfighter continued. “Do I like the decision? No. Do I have to live with it? Yes. Get ready to put on my shoes and play the next game.”
Donovan had LaVine on the bench from six minutes left in the third quarter until 8:50 left in the fourth quarter. With the two-time All-Star off the court, the Bulls cut their 16-point deficit to four points.
Bulls guard Zach LaVine wants to prove doubters wrong after slow bench against Magic
However, the Bulls dropped their fourth straight game. LaVine struggled across the board. In 26 minutes, the 9-year veteran finished with 4.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists. He also shot 1-of-14 (7.1%) from the floor and missed all five of his 3-point attempts.
“I feel like it’s my job, my responsibility in those moments is to try to make the best decisions for the team,” Donovan said after the loss. “And I thought that was the best decision at the time.
For me, I don’t see this happening as anything but a one-time game. I know he wants to be there. He probably won’t have many games in his career. [LaVine] He wasn’t there at those times, but the team was playing well, and he gave us a chance.
Some Bulls fans think Donovan should have left LaVine in the game.
— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) November 19, 2022
The Magic shot an impressive 42.9% from 3-point range. And Orlando’s Wendell Carter Jr. scored a team-high 21 points. DeMar DeRozan leads the Bulls with 41 points.
“We can’t keep putting ourselves down 17, 19 points,” DeRozan added. “It’s very difficult. The margin of error for trying to bounce back is slim. To win a game like this, you have to play perfectly.”
In 12 starts this season, Zach LaVine is averaging 20.7 points, 3.9 boards, 4.0 assists and 1.1 steals. He shot 41.5% from the field and 36.2% from beyond the arc.
Based on his stats so far, Friday night’s show was probably more. The Bulls guard has recorded eight 20-point games since the start of the season. Then again, LaVine’s true shooting percentage this season is 54.1%, his lowest since the 2019-20 season.