Robin Lopez is committed to staying with the Bulls and the rebuild
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Robin Lopez has been a part of four playoff runs.
There likely won’t be a fifth.
At least not with the Bulls. These 3-10 Bulls.
“I’m competitive, and I know all the guys in this locker room are competitive, so we’re focused on getting better that day in practice, getting better and going out to try and win games,” Lopez said Friday. “I think we all see what’s immediately there in front of us right now.”
Lots of them.
And more than a guy in his 10th NBA season should be willing to endure.
Dwyane Wade had no intention of suffering through this current Bulls rebuild and passive-aggressively pushed for a buyout this past summer. But Lopez isn’t about to be mistaken for Wade. Yes, he knows he’s the biggest trade asset on the team, and there’s a good chance he won’t be wearing a Bulls uniform past the Feb. 9 trade deadline, but it won’t be because he wants to be elsewhere.
“You know, this is where I am,” he said. “I don’t mean this in a bad way, but that’s not going to change tonight, tomorrow. So I’m going to go out there and take care of what my job is tonight, tomorrow.”
His job Friday was trying to help his teammates end a five-game losing streak, which they did, beating the Hornets 123-120 at the United Center to pick up their third win of the season.
While Lopez only scored six points, the Bulls were a team-high plus-12 when he was on the floor.
“This is not about just me,” he said. “What my focus has been, especially from a leadership standpoint, is to really make sure I’m playing the game the right way, both on the practice floor and in games, to be able to back up anything I may have to say.”
Lopez continues to say effort hasn’t been a problem. Shot-making, decision-making, ball security, talent — those are real problems, which the Bulls may have started solving against the Hornets (5-9).
Justin Holiday was stellar in his return after the birth of his first child, scoring a team-high 27 points, while Kris Dunn had his best game as a Bull, scoring a career-high 22 off the bench, including a clutch bank shot with 43 seconds left.
Lauri Markkanen scored 16 but made his biggest impact with a huge defensive play with 3.2 seconds left, cutting off Kemba Walker’s potential game-winning layup.
“Everyone that stepped on the floor contributed,” coach Fred Hoiberg said.
Added Holiday: “Very important for us, especially the way things have been going the past few games. One, it shows we can actually come out here and do what we’re supposed to do. It shows we can actually compete and can actually win games if we play the right way. This is what the coaches have been harping on.”
The staff had been waiting for Dunn to have a breakout game.
“I tried to lock in for my team,” he said. “I felt like they needed me as much as I needed them, and I think we came out and played hard together. That was the biggest thing.”
For Lopez, it was just great to be part of a rebuilding team having a positive night after a dark 10 days.
“We’re going to do what we can with who we have,” he said. “That has to be our mentality.”
Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.