Zach LaVine scores 37 points as Bulls rally late to beat Grizzlies

Rookie Coby White’s 25 points off the bench were huge, but the night belonged to LaVine.

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Zach LaVine drives ahead of Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks during the second half Friday in Memphis, Tenn.

Brandon Dill/AP

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Since the Bulls started training camp last month, all the talk about guard Zach LaVine has focused on him setting some serious goals once the games started to count.

A few of them are personal goals and some of them are team goals.

And while the details of those goals have been kept relatively quiet, the ones LaVine has talked about were ending the reputation he has of being a below-average defender and the Bulls winning more games.

Friday proved to be a good night for LaVine in terms of both.

LaVine won his personal matchup handily, scoring a game-high 37 points and handcuffing Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks all game. He also achieved a team goal when the Bulls rallied in the second half to earn a 110-102 victory.

Besides the show LaVine put on, rookie Coby White scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half to help the Bulls avoid what would have been a disastrous 0-2 start.

‘‘It was a team win,’’ White said. ‘‘I was just one little piece of it. We faced adversity, and the second half we bounced back. I was just trying to do whatever I can to be a spark off the bench.’’

If White was the spark, LaVine was the torch. He had six rebounds and four assists to go with his 37 points.

It was a much different game for LaVine than the season opener Wednesday in Charlotte, North Carolina, in which he struggled in the first half and was outscored by Hornets guard Dwayne Bacon in the Bulls’ loss.

Coach Jim Boylen had a heart-to-heart talk with LaVine after that game and told him he needed to make opposing guards more uncomfortable with his defense.

‘‘We want to have a better first-quarter edge,’’ Boylen said. ‘‘We want to win the first quarter. That starts with Zach; it starts with that first group out there.

‘‘What I am hoping Zach can be — and I believe he can be — is a two-way player. I’m encouraged with how he received my post-game meeting with him. We talked about how we discuss the game. I’m encouraged his heart is in the right place and he’s focused.’’

LaVine responded by scoring 10 of the Bulls’ 25 points in the first quarter while holding Brooks to zero.

But the Bulls yielded 29 points in the first quarter and 31 in the second to fall behind 60-47 at the half.

Then White took over.

Not to be outdone by Grizzlies rookie point guard Ja Morant, White had his first all-eyes-on-me moment to pick up the scoring slack from a slumping Lauri Markkanen. After scoring 35 points against the Hornets, Markkanen was held to 4-for-15 shooting from the field — 1-for-10 from three-point range — by the Grizzlies and finished with nine.

That’s why the Bulls welcomed White’s scoring. Someone had to pitch in to help LaVine.

‘‘Whenever I’m out there, I just try and play as hard as I can and control what I can control,’’ White said. ‘‘A couple of shots fell for me, but the big thing was we got that win.’’

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