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Professional

Grant taking care of ball, working on finding his shot

Developing as a playmaker

By Jerian Grant’s math, zero is greater than nine.

The first is the number of turnovers the Bulls guard committed Saturday. The second number represented how many assists Grant had to lead the Bulls during their 96-90 overtime loss to the Pelicans.

The first number also is the first number Grant looked at on the stat sheet once the game was over, even though he has led the Bulls in assists every game this season.

“If I can have games where I don’t have any turnovers, I feel like I played all right,” Grant said. “The main goal is winning the game. We gave ourselves an opportunity to do that.”

Another number that jumped out was Grant’s career-high-tying eight rebounds. He also scored 13 points, 4.6 over his season average, which has been a point of emphasis since the season began.

Grant is shooting 32.1 percent overall, including just 15.8 percent from behind the 3-point line.

“I was panicking early because I wasn’t making shots,” Grant said. “Coaches stressed to me it’s not about making shots. … I’ve just got to keep being aggressive.”

Grant was 4-for-9 from the field Saturday, but just 1-for-5 from 3.

One assist Grant didn’t get was perhaps the most important Saturday, though. On the final possession of regulation, Grant inbounded the ball to Robin Lopez in traffic, a broken play that was a result of a failed screen. Lopez, cloaked by a pair of Pelicans, had his shot blocked by DeMarcus Cousins as the clock expired.

“We had Justin [Holiday] coming off. He was covered. Everybody moved in the same direction,” Grant said. “It was kind of tough to figure out who to give the ball to. I saw RoLo for a split-second, so I threw it to him.”

Still, Grant said it was his best game of the season after he scored five of his team’s seven points in overtime.

“I was able to get a couple shots and get my guys involved,” Grant said. “That’s something to grow on. It’s a game I can look back on.”

And, at the same time, he said he’s looking to create opportunities for others to score while not abandoning his own shot.

“I’m still trying to figure it out,” he said. “We have some great shooters. I try to get the ball to them. As a point guard, you’ve still got to be aggressive. You’re going up against guys who are going to attack you, so you’ve got to attack them on defense. My shot will come.”

Grant said he’s happy to have another shot after he was benched after starting two games during the playoffs last season. He said he neither received nor asked for an explanation from Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg.

“It was tough. You want to be in there,” Grant said. “We’ve moved on. I have to take advantage of that.”

In Hoiberg’s eyes, Grant has begun to do just that.

“Jerian was good,” Hoiberg said. “He made the right plays, for the most part. He was aggressive, got himself to the free-throw line when we needed it, took the lid off the hoop late in the game.”

Even though it all added up to the Bulls’ sixth loss in eight games, Grant said the opportunity to become better is greater thanks to his showing Saturday.

“I’m adjusting, for sure,” he said. “I’m a guy who can make plays.”

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