The numbers weren’t lying the first five weeks of the regular season.
They just weren’t telling the whole truth.
The Bulls were more efficient offensively and defensively late in games with center Robin Lopez on the court.
But as Lopez was quick to point out Monday: “In the first half of the season, we weren’t winning games, and now we’re winning games.’’
So Lopez has no problem being part of a four-man crew of big men that almost takes turns closing games.
He doesn’t mind that coach Fred Hoiberg is leaning on Nikola Mirotic and rookie Lauri Markkanen lately.
“I’m OK with that,’’ Lopez said. “I’ve always been a team guy.’’
Hoiberg said the Markkanen-Mirotic tandem spreads the floor more than Lopez or Bobby Portis can, but it’s mostly a feel thing.
If Lopez or Portis gets hot early in the fourth quarter, Hoiberg will ride it out with one of them.
“It’s tough,’’ Hoiberg said. “We’ve got four bigs that are playing for us right now who all have very unique skill sets and different things they can bring to the table.’’
Lopez agreed with Hoiberg and also pointed out the importance of Markkanen or Portis being on the court during crunch time and delivering.
“It’s fun, man,’’ Lopez said. “I know from experience that just building up those minutes, building up those plays, failing, succeeding, whatever, just getting that experience, that can be so big for a [young] player’s confidence.
“I love that big-man rotation we have. It’s complementary and very versatile. I think it’s a fantastic strength of ours.’’
Zach LaVine has made it through three consecutive practices with no setbacks as he goes through a key final hurdle in his recovery from surgery last February on the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
“He’s sore, as expected,’’ Hoiberg said. “After practice Monday, he went straight to the ice tub to kind of work on the soreness.
‘‘But, yeah, overall he’s handled it great.
“I was able to watch a lot of the practice. It was good to see him out there. He’s in training-camp mode, but he’s handling the workload well, and that’s the important thing.’’
LaVine is scheduled for six consecutive practices, and if there are no problems, the Bulls’ brass will meet and set a return date.
Hoiberg said there will be numerous people in the room when they meet, and they all want to get on the same page.
“It’s about getting in that room with our doctors, trainers, everybody that is involved in making this decision, and seeing what date is the best for him to come back,’’ Hoiberg said.
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