CHARLOTTE, N.C. — One night after questioning his relationship with coach Jim Boylen, the Chicago Bulls’ Zach LaVine came through with a big game.
LaVine had a career-high 49 points, including the winning 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds left to give the Bulls a 116-115 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday night.
The night before, LaVine was pulled from the game early in the first quarter after Miami had taken a 13-0 lead. After that 116-108 home loss, LaVine said he sensed a lack of trust from Boylen.
All was forgotten after Saturday’s spectacular individual performance and dramatic comeback.
“Like I’ve been saying, we’ve been playing good in stretches,” LaVine said. “We just executed to perfection down the stretch. Obviously, you know, we got blessed a little bit with some luck. We can take this energy and go on to the next game.
“Hopefully this is that turning point for us. Every team has it. This could be a big step for us in the right direction.”
Rookie Coby White, who starred at the University of North Carolina and playing in front of hundreds of family and friends from his hometown of Goldsboro, N.C., added 28 points for Chicago.
LaVine’s late bucket ended a flurry for the Bulls, who trailed by five with less than 10 seconds left before Tomas Satoronsky hit a 3-pointer with 7.1 seconds remaining. On the last play, LaVine scooped up the loose ball after White forced a turnover by Devonte Graham.
“Once I saw the ball on the ground I was going for it,” said LaVine, who scooped up the basketball, stepped behind the 3-point line and fired in the game-winner.
LaVine, who entered averaging 19.5 points per game, started his 17th straight game and hit his first three shots – all 3s – and two free throws for 11 points in the first 7 1/2 minutes of the game and stayed hot the rest of the night.
“I’ve always said Zach is a really good guy, and a good person and he wants to do well,” Boylen said. “He wants to help the team. … My job is to push the guy to a place he can’t take himself and that happens sometimes with tough conversations, meetings and maybe some uncomfortable moments but that’s what my job is. The credit needs to go to him and his focus, energy and his effort.
“He is always good when we coach him and talk to him. He wants to play better, I want him to play better and I am really happy for him.”
Terry Rozier III had a game-high 28 points for Charlotte. Marvin Williams scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half as the Hornets recovered from a 14-point deficit in the first half and led by 11 early in the fourth quarter.
The Hornets were still ahead by seven at 112-105 with 32.1 seconds left.
“I mean that’s just a tough, tough loss,” said Graham, who had 18 points. “Especially for me, turning the ball over right there in that situation. But Zach made an extreme shot and you just have to tip your hat to him for that.”
Charlotte’s previous six victories had come in games in which they had trailed by 10 or more points. And Saturday’s game was seconds away from a seventh win after overcoming a double-digit deficit.
“There was a lot of good to get back in that game,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said. “I thought our guys played inspired. We won the boards and we won the paint. We did a number of things very well in this game. Gave ourselves a great shot, a great opportunity there, we just have not been able to close these last few games.
“You’ve got to give them credit. LaVine obviously made some incredible shots there down the stretch.”