CLEVELAND — Kris Dunn has no problem wearing the closer label.
He’s just not buying into the idea of being the closer for the Bulls.
“Whoever has it rolling, and with this team, it could be any of these guys,’’ Dunn said Thursday when discussing his decision-making during crunch time. “Whoever is open, has the better matchup, they should get the ball.’’
And in at least a handful of games since a Nov. 30 loss in Denver, he’s the guy who has had it rolling late.
Even coach Fred Hoiberg hasn’t shied away from attaching the closer label to his second-year point guard.
“Well, he’s got the ball in his hands, and we’re running a lot of two-man games, whether we set the screen or slip out of the screen, and Kris has really made good plays out of that,’’ Hoiberg said. “So to be able to put the ball in Kris’ hands and have the confidence that he’s going to be able to make the right play, whether it’s for himself or for a teammate, it’s a great luxury to have.
“He’s really grown in that area as of late to really develop into that guy that at least has the ball in his hands.’’
But will that change when Zach LaVine is up and running in a few weeks? After all, LaVine has a longer résumé than Dunn and also is comfortable with the ball in his hands.
“Throughout the game, I’m not going to yell out, ‘If there’s a last shot, I’m going for it,’ ’’ Dunn said. “Zach shouldn’t feel that way, either. I played with Zach. He’s not the kind of guy that is going to try to play hero ball. He tries to play the right way.’’
That’s why Hoiberg wasn’t concerned in the least.
“Well, Zach will absolutely give us another option to go to late in games,’’ Hoiberg said. “He’s had some really good moments down the stretch in clutch situations, so it’s going to be good to have another guy on the floor that can make a play late in games.
“But right now Kris has been very good in that role, and I think everyone is looking forward to getting Zach back out there and have another guy that can make shots late.’’
It’s easy to forget that Cameron Payne (right foot) is still on the Bulls’ roster, but the oft-injured point guard made the trip to Cleveland and continues working toward a return.
While he likely won’t be ready before mid-February, Hoiberg said, “He’s starting to do a bit more now. He’s spot-shooting. Now he’s able to move and cut a little bit. [He’s] here with the guys doing some extra work on his own.’’
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