(Photo by Gary Dineen / NBAE via Getty Images)
All that was required was that Coby White hit seven three-pointers during the fourth quarter.
The Chicago Bulls began their season with the playoffs and All-Star aspirations, although a 3-7 start started big holes in the legitimacy of their goals. Then, with a 120-102 revenge victory against the lowly New York Knicks on Tuesday night, they got their fourth victory in 2019-20 and some optimism for the future to follow.
And again, all it took was for Coby White to hit seven three-pointers in the fourth quarter.
To this point, the bulls have not been very good at all. After losing three of their first five games to the Charlotte Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Knicks, it seemed that expectations for the spring season may have become a little too optimistic.
Zach LaVine has been mediocre at best for starting the year, averaging 20.0 points 4.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.4 turnovers while shooting just 43.1 percent from the field. Lauri Markkanen has been almost invisible after a huge performance in the evening. The same goes for White, whose Tuesday night nuclear shooting masked a 34.4 field goal percentage and 21.2 three-point percentage over his first 10 professional games.
Wendell Carter Jr. and free agent additions Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young have been the only bright spots.
Some of the bull's problems can be explained by accident . They get the right shot . They just miss. It is frustrating, but it is not a reason to panic.
Much more touching are the blown double-digit quarter leads to the Knicks (in their first matchup) and the Los Angeles Lakers, minus-9.8 fourth-quarter net worth, which ranks in the bottom five in the league, and one overly aggressive defensive schedule that gives up the highest allowed percentage of shots at the edge and the second highest percentage of corner trips, the two most valuable shots in the game.
Bull's poor decision making and questionable strategy has shot them in the foot, but there are times when things seem to click: when LaVine attacks the basket with a decisive edge, when Markkanen is integrated into the offense rather than watching it from a distance and when White leaves for seven sixty on a block after the bulls entered the final period with the score level.
Not to be lost in White's hellfire was one of LaVine's better performances during the year. The Bulls have laid their bed with him as the principal, so they must live and die with his decision making. It can be a scary reality, but he also gets skeptics to eat crow on certain nights.
Twenty-five points and five assists with just three turnovers is the kind of stat line the Bulls need from LaVine if they want to take a step toward relevance. His scoring arsenal is well documented but he did not cut the offense. His passing also looked sharp and he made his teammates better.
The Bulls were a trendy team for the spring season because of their savvy off-season acquisitions, but adding Satoransky doesn't turn LaVine into an All-Star; LaVine has to turn into one. It comes with taking smarter pictures, limiting bad decisions and being able to read the game faster. When he can choose his places, not do too much and succeed in the game's thinking categories, the bulls follow.
On the other hand, Markkanen has not looked right.
The 22-year-old is a crucial building block for this team, and he was supposed to start putting things together in year 3. Sincerity may have something to do with his  numbers dropping for the past two weeks, but it's officially time to start worrying about whether he can be as important to Chicago's rebuilding as the front office had hoped.
Three years in, the Bulls still haven't figured out how is maximized Markkanen's skill set. Being a clean floor distance is not good enough, especially when he shoots only 27.3 percent from the depth. Head coach Jim Boylen must continue to build his confidence and encourage him to attack the basket rather than just exist on the edges of the offense.
Still showing flashes of rare properties .
H is able to postpone the offense and finish acrobatic shots is unique to a 7-footer , but the bulls must put him in positions to succeed. H e must be involved in action and receive the ball on the run as his high center of gravity and shaky handles prevent him from creating his own shot in isolation situations. Standard pick -and-pops can get him to a rhythm and should be inseparable.
Even with a fun-filled game from Markkanen (13 points, eight rebounds, six innings on 6-of-10 shooting), White, who channeled his inner Klay Thompson, Chicago to dominate the fourth quarter and shut out the Knicks with an exclamation point. It is the first legitimate sign of growth this season.
The Bulls got too removed with their own self-perception and seemed to start the campaign expecting to win games rather than proving they could. If they hope to profit from the expected spring periods, it's time to reduce nonsense, build on this performance and end competitions against teams that have no bottom lining.
Beating The Knicks is not exactly a reason to get the floats out at Grant Park. But overcoming a mental block and finding a plan for success in the fourth quarter in a close game is an obstacle the Bulls needed to clear.
Maybe the floodgates for Chicago's success will now open, just as they did for White's fourth quarter three-point shooting.
Follow Will on Twitter @WontGottlieb
All statistics from Basketball Reference or Cleaning the Glass unless otherwise stated.
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