It's going to be tough to keep Zach LaVine off the All-Star team.
The Chicago Bulls star continued his breakout campaign on Monday with a clutch 3-pointer that helped force overtime in a 120-112 win over the Indiana Pacers.
The Pacers led 103-101 in the final minute of regulation when the Bulls looked to their No. 1 option in a halfcourt set. LaVine shed defender Justin Holiday on a screen above the 3-point line. He dribbled right to find a mismatch with Domantas Sabonis, stepped back and launched a 3-pointer over his defender's hopelessly outstretched right hand that sank through the net for a 104-103 Bulls lead.
Indiana went on to force overtime, but the extra session belonged to the Bulls as they outscored the Pacers, 15-7. LaVine's final box score tally read 30 points, nine rebounds and three assists while connecting on 4 of 9 3-point attempts.
Will LaVine earn first All-Star bid?
It was another big line, but a typical night for the 25-year-old Bulls guard in the midst of a career season. Through 25 games prior to Monday, LaVine was averaging 28.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.3 assists while shooting 51.9 percent from the field and 43 percent from 3-point distance — all career highs.
It's an effort that's going to be hard to ignore when compiling the All-Star roster. LaVine's not going to supplant Bradley Beal or Kyrie Irving, the leading vote-getters so far for the East's starting backcourt. But he should figure heavily into the equation for a backup role as a first-time All-Star.
The knock on LaVine's bid is his oft-beleaguered defense — and the Bulls' 11-15 record. But there's no denying that LaVine has developed into one of the game's elite offensive talents seven seasons into his NBA career.
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