The Timberwolves were correct in that assessment, but LaVine’s stardom has been for Chicago, and it will be on display again when the Bulls visit Minnesota on Sunday night.
LaVine is fresh off a career-best 50 points in Friday’s 120-108 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. The All-Star guard had 39 points in the first half and scored in an effortless manner that stunned recent Chicago acquisition Nikola Vucevic.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of something like that. It looked so easy,” Vucevic said. “He wasn’t forcing — it just came so naturally to him. And it was so efficient. It was beautiful to see. Everything he does just looks so effortless.
“Even the way he runs, the way he moves, the way he jumps. He’s so athletic and yet so skilled. I wish that we could’ve done better and helped win the game and make this night even more special for him.”
LaVine made 18-of-31 shots from the field, including 7-of-12 from 3-point range and 7-of-8 from the free-throw line. He also contributed eight rebounds and five assists.
Despite his superb effort, the Bulls lost for the ninth time in the past 13 games. That took a little luster off the accomplishment in LaVine’s eyes.
“Obviously, I’d much rather take the win right now,” the 26-year-old LaVine said. “I just got in a rhythm. My three finally started falling and after that, I can get to my mid-range, get to the hoop. Just got it going. We have the opportunity to go out there and establish ourselves and make our run. We had a big lead. We gave it up.”
The seventh-year pro is in his fourth season with the Bulls. He played his first three seasons with the Timberwolves before he was included in the 2017 draft-night trade to acquire Jimmy Butler.
Talk about a steal of a deal for the Bulls. Butler quickly wore out his welcome in Minnesota and played in just 69 games over parts of two seasons before being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Meanwhile, LaVine averaged 23.7 points in his second season in Chicago, raised that average to 25.5 last season, and is up to 27.5 this season. He ranked seventh in the NBA in scoring entering Saturday’s play.
Minnesota has lost nine of its past 12 games as it begins a four-game homestand.
The Timberwolves averaged 136.5 points over their past two contests and still lost both — 141-137 to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday and 145-136 in overtime to the Boston Celtics on Friday.
Minnesota saw what a 50-point scorer looks like against the Celtics as Jayson Tatum scored a career-best 53 points.
The Timberwolves led by 17 points in the third quarter but couldn’t slow Tatum.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 30 points and 12 rebounds for Minnesota while D’Angelo Russell scored 26 points and rookie Anthony Edwards 24.
“I thought we fought hard. We gave ourselves some chances,” Russell said. “At the end of the game, all you can ask for is a chance.”
Russell is averaging 22.7 points in three games since returning from a knee injury that caused him to miss nearly two months.
The Timberwolves will be watching how he meshes with Edwards, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2020 draft.
Edwards, who averages 17.9 points a game, has found his stride and has topped 20 points in seven of the past eight games.
The Bulls won this season’s first meeting, 133-126 in overtime at home on Feb. 24. LaVine scored 35 points for the Bulls while Malik Beasley scored 25 to lead the Timberwolves.
Beasley is sidelined with a hamstring injury.
–Field Level Media