The Bulls’ looked like they were going to get run out of their own building quickly Friday evening against the Miami Heat.
After just over three minutes of play in the first quarter, the Bulls were losing 13-0. They continued their poor play throughout the first half trailing by 26 even though the Bulls second unit did everything they could to make things respectable eventually losing 116-108.
The drama all started, however, after the Heat’s 13-0 run when head coach Jim Boylen called a timeout.
He benched Zach LaVine and brought in Ryan Arcidiacono. LaVine was the only starter taken off the floor.
“I thought he needed a break. I thought he needed to come in and think about it,” Boylen told the media post-game. “I felt there were some defensive mistakes that didn’t need to be made. I thought he needed to come over and think about it for a minute.”
When Boylen was asked why he only pulled LaVine off the floor and not any other starters, he wasn’t shy in his response.
“I didn’t want him in the game anymore. I think he needed to come over and think about it. He had three egregious defensive mistakes that I’ve talked to him about.”
Despite only pulling LaVine, Boylen also made it known that the entire starting five need to play better.
“Guys know. They Know. Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen and our starters need to play better. They got to play better for us to become who we can become.”
Boylen is right about that. The Bulls bench outscored the starters 62 to 46 and the starters didn’t hit a single three while the bench was 10-19 from deep.
Slow starts have hindered this team all year long, but it doesn’t explain why the blame was only put on LaVine and unfortunately, LaVine had to find out from the media why he was benched.
“What did he say I got pulled for,” LaVine asked.
That’s when he was told about the “three egregious defensive mistakes,” and LaVine didn’t seem to appreciate this news.
“Zach LaVine got 13 points scored on him, I guess. Or was it the starting five? I don’t remember,” LaVine responded. “I thought I was trying to do my job out there. I can’t do anything about that. I just have to control what I can control. I can’t control my minutes.”
LaVine finished the game with 15 points (6-14 FG), three rebounds, and two assists in 29 minutes of play.
It’s clear LaVine wasn’t happy being benched and this type of back and forth between the head coach, the media, and a star player could sink this ship faster than ever thought possible. The sad part is that Bulls fans have seen it happen time and time again since the end of the Jordan era with coaches like Tim Floyd, Vinny Del Negro, and Scott Skiles.
It will be interesting to see if Boylen and LaVine can work things out between them, but they won’t have much time before there next game which takes place in Charlotte, Saturday night against the Hornets.
Here’s to hoping this isn’t the beginning of the end for this young team.