The volume coming from his own bench Tuesday night was an obvious reminder for Bulls guard Zach LaVine: New head coach Jim Boylen does very little quietly.
But an even louder indication of a possible new direction for the Bulls was the scoreboard when the game was over.
“That was the first thing I noticed — just the score of the game,” LaVine said of a 96-90 loss to the Pacers. “I was like, ‘Oh, wow, that’s low.’ It reminded me of the [1990s].”
Perhaps we should get used to it.
“I thought [Tuesday’s] game was an old-school Central Division game, wasn’t it?” Boylen said Wednesday. “And I don’t mind that, either, but we’re going to keep on working on being more efficient than we were [in the loss].
“I’d like to play smart. On the road, I think you’ve got to manage the game a little bit — that’s kind of my background. I do hope that when we hold someone to 96, we can score 100 and win. How that’s going to happen? I think we’re still figuring that out and getting guys back and getting guys comfortable.”
Boylen’s right about one thing — the Bulls are closer to getting guys back, as guard Kris Dunn (left knee) and forward Bobby Portis (right knee) went through another full-contact practice Wednesday. That means they could be back by the weekend or early next week.
But what Boylen — who became head coach Monday with Fred Hoiberg’s firing — is attempting to do by slowing down the scoring isn’t exactly the norm. So far this season, 15 of 30 NBA teams are averaging at least 110 points per game. In the 2014-15 season, the Warriors were the only team to average at least 110 points, with half the league averaging below 100. In 1999, just seven teams averaged above 100, with the Kings leading the league with an average of 105. Today, a 105-point average would put you 25th in the league.
Can it shift back to the way it used to be?
“We might be a part of that trend as we get healthy and as we get used to each other, and as we grow,” Boylen said. “But I think before you become trendy, you’ve got to be basic. You’ve got to understand the basics. We’re going to try and do that.”
LaVine gets where Boylen is coming from.
“He’s a fighter, and that’s what we respect about him,” LaVine said. “We know how much he cares. He brings an intensity to the game, he fights for you, and he’s going to be straight up with you. He’s been like that as assistant coach.”
That’s why Boylen had no problem telling LaVine, his best player this season, that he knows LaVine can score, but it’s about making him more efficient. If that means slowing the game down, so be it.
“I’m all for winning, man,” LaVine said. “Whatever I’ve got to do. It’s not like I’m going to change my aggressiveness to score the ball, but a game like [Tuesday], if I have to take 10 shots through three quarters, [then] try and get it going in the fourth, I’ll do that. We were in the game the entire time, so I’m going to do what I have to do to win.”