Guard Coby White’s learning process continued in the Bulls’ 120-100 victory Monday against the Rockets.
He learned that John Wall’s elbow doesn’t play and that the stanchions at the Toyota Center in Houston don’t move.
White found that out in the third quarter when he was guarding Wall, who was driving, and caught an elbow in the mouth. The momentum from the blow carried him back, and his head and neck crashed into the base of the stanchion, forcing him out of the game and into the locker room for a bit.
White wasn’t around to see the Bulls (14-16) take their seven-point lead and stretch it to a 26-point advantage by the time the third quarter ended. They scored a season-high 46 in the third.
And despite all the time he missed while being checked out by trainers, White still finished with a team-high 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Does it amount to a big step in his development as a point guard? Let’s not get carried away. We’ll call it just another positive step in his development as a basketball player.
Coach Billy Donovan continued to hand off more point-guard responsibilities to Zach LaVine, Tomas Satoransky and Ryan Arcidiacono, which frees up White to play to his strengths.
It doesn’t mean that the White experiment as the full-time point guard is over by any means. Donovan described it as more of an “evolution.’’
“It’s been more like just trying to find different ways to generate or put him in situations where maybe he’s not initiating offense, but more so we’re going to him where he can get it in his hands and go create,’’ Donovan said. “It’s more an evolution of how we can best utilize him. There have been some times on free throws and dead balls where we’ve moved him off the ball and tried to run action at him or put him in situations where he can be aggressive and he can go play, instead of maybe having the ball in his hands and he’s focused on, ‘Hey, I have to get us into the offense.’
“He’s done a very good job of that.’’
And White’s new job description isn’t likely to change. Donovan made it clear that it isn’t a situation in which they’ve backed away from some of his point-guard responsibilities and will go back to them later in the season.
This is about getting the most out of White as well as the team playing better basketball since he has changed roles.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily about going back to what we were or going forward and taking [White] off the ball completely,’’ Donovan said. “It’s just more how do we find a way to best utilize him and get him to play to his strengths, and sometimes off the ball is good. Sometimes the ball in his hands is good, as well. And so we just have to try to maximize him the best we can.’’
That was evident right out of the gate against the Rockets (11-18) with White scoring 11 points in a 22-7 run to start the game.
“I mean, it’s all about confidence, first and foremost,’’ White said. “Coach is trying to put me in positions to use my strengths, and I’ve been playing a little more confident. I feel more comfortable, and it’s been translating. Yeah, man, it’s all about confidence with me.
“Everybody has one common goal, and that’s to win. That’s all we really care about as a team.’’