Though he may not have appreciated being benched the night before, the move clearly lit a fire under Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine.
Just 24 hours later, he bounced back better than imaginable.
LaVine dropped a career-high 49 points and hit a franchise record 13 3-pointers to lead the Bulls to a 116-115 win against the Charlotte Hornets. His 13 shots from behind the arc mark the second-most ever made in a single game in NBA history, behind Klay Thompson’s 14.
A crazy finish
It was LaVine’s final shot, however, that was by far the most impressive — capping a wild ending at the Spectrum Center.
The Bulls, who had led most of the first three quarters and even built up a 14-point lead before halftime, had fallen down five points with just 10 seconds left in the game.
After an expert pump fake, Chicago guard Tomas Satoransky drilled a 3-pointer from the wing to bring them within just two points. Then, as the Hornets tried to inbound the ball, the Bulls poked it away. LaVine picked it up, quickly dribbled out to the wing and buried the fade-away bucket from behind the arc as time expired, sealing the win.
“We just played it out,” LaVine said, via K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “Sato hit a bit 3. We doubled the ball. Arch knocked it away or something happened and I just pretty much said, ‘F--k it, I’m going for the game.’”
“Once I shot it, I knew it was cash,” he added. “That was the craziest game I’ve been a part of.”
The celebration that ensued, however, isn’t something LaVine remembers much of.
“I just blacked out. We were celebrating, talking a lot, lot of explicit words running off the court. It was fun, man. That’s an unbelievable win,” LaVine said, via NBC Sports Chicago. “Shooters shoot. I got hot and kept putting them in the basket. I didn’t know how many I had. I just knew I was going to keep shooting them.”
Redemption from the night before
LaVine was benched early on Friday night after head coach Jim Boylen said he made “three egregious defensive mistakes” in the first quarter of their 116-108 loss to the Miami Heat. He then opened up about his relationship with Boylen — which has been up and down since Boylen took over the head job — with Yahoo Sports after the game.
Boylen and LaVine met before the game on Saturday to talk things through.
“We had a good talk today,” Boylen said, via the Associated Press. “Our goals are the same. We're moving forward. I know Zach's heart. I know he cares about the team. We all can get frustrated with a poor performance. Me included.”
LaVine finished the night with 49 points, having shot 17-of-28 from the field. Coby White dropped 28 off the bench, and Wendell Carter Jr. added 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Terry Rozier led the Hornets with 28 points. Marvin Williams added 21 points off the bench, shooting 9-of-10 from the field, and Devonte’ Graham finished with 18 points.
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