So far, Ben Gordon is benefiting from his team having a new coach.
Jim Boylan was named Chicago’s interim coach on Thursday, three days after Scott Skiles was fired. Assistant Pete Myers coached the Bulls (11-18) in their first game without Skiles, a 94-79 loss at San Antonio last Wednesday, but Boylan won his first two games as coach before falling 112-110 in overtime to Orlando on Monday.
Boylan’s most significant move since taking over the team has been to start bringing Gordon off the bench. Gordon, the NBA Sixth Man of the Year as a rookie in 2004-05, started the first 26 games of the season and was averaging 17.6 points while shooting 38.9 percent from the field. He averaged 21.4 points and shot 45.5 percent last season.
In three games in a reserve role under Boylan, Gordon has averaged 31.7 points and shot 56.5 percent, including 8-of-15 from 3-point range. He scored a season-high 39 points in Monday’s defeat.
“The last two games, I feel like I found my shot,” Gordon said.
The Bulls have scored in triple digits in each of Boylan’s first three games — they did that just six times through their first 26 games—and seem to be responding to his laid back attitude.
“He doesn’t get too high or too low,” Gordon said. “That works when guys see Jim being so calm. He leads us in kind of a relaxed way.”
The Bulls now will try for their fourth straight win over Charlotte (11-18) and third this season. Chicago is 10-3 all-time against the Hornets, including 4-2 on the road.
The Bulls won 91-82 in Charlotte on Dec. 5 in the last meeting behind a season-high 30 points from Luol Deng, who is averaging 22.0 points with Boylan as coach to raise his season average to 18.4.
The Bobcats ended a four-game losing streak on Monday, beating Indiana 107-103 in overtime as Gerald Wallace scored a season-high 36 points.
“It was a big win for us,” Wallace said. “The main thing we talked about was we wanted to finish off the year on a good note.”
Wallace, who signed a six-year, $57 million deal in the offseason, has scored at least 22 points in nine of his last 13 games. He is averaging a team-high 20.0 points, the same number he scored in the fourth quarter and overtime Monday.
“We got the ball to Gerald on the offensive end and he took the game over,” said Jason Richardson, who added 28 points and played with a swollen face after a collision with Indiana’s Danny Granger. “He pulled the game out for us.”
Coach Sam Vincent, whose team is averaging just 93.6 points, started a small lineup that included point guards Raymond Felton and Jeff McInnis. The Bobcats responded with just their ninth triple-digit scoring effort of the season.