Bulls guard Zach LaVine had an explanation for his odd choice to go for two while down three with less than five seconds to go in Wednesday’s 100-97 loss to the Wizards.
With 3.6 seconds left to play, LaVine put up a 16-foot jumper and missed while wide-open Bulls center Nikola Vucevic watched from the top of the perimeter with his arms and hands outstretched. The loss was the second straight for the Bulls, who fell to 19-23.
“We were just trying to get a 3 off,” LaVine said after the game. “And then when I went in to go pull up, I think it was… [Wizards guard] Delon Wright fouled me. So, my instinct was to go up and try to get a 3-point play. I was going for a pull-up when he fouled me. I shot it. They didn’t call it. And that’s how it is.”
The Wizards had a foul to give before the buzzer sounded, and replays show LaVine pointing to Wright and lead official Rodney Mott after his shot missed without a call.
LaVine told reporters after the game that Wright told him that he fouled him and that Mott told Wright that he missed the call.
“Rodney just said he missed it. And that’s how it is,” LaVine said. “I could’ve up pulled up deep from 3. But once I walked into it and [Wright] tried to grab me, and I just tried to throw the ball up.
“I went in to pull up on the three, and then when he went to grab me I just took the hop step to try and get the contact… We’re down 3 with 5 seconds lift. They’re either going to foul me right away or wait until I get my shooting motion and that’s what they did. It wasn’t called. I could’ve pulled up from deep… you just hope you don’t get in that position again.”
Moments before the missed call, LaVine — who finished with 38 points — beat the shot clock to hit a 3-pointer with 30 seconds left to tie the game at 97.
Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma then broke the tie with his own 3-pointer with 5.7 seconds left that eventually sealed the win for Washington at home.
LaVine led the Bulls in scoring while Chicago was without their leading scorer DeMar DeRozan, who missed his first game of the season due to a quadriceps strain.
That followed Monday’s 107-99 loss to the Celtics when LaVine nearly led a Bulls comeback in a fourth quarter scoring barrage.
The Bulls, who are in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, host the Thunder on Friday.