Bulls

On one-year anniversary of his injury, Zach LaVine is still finding his legs with Bulls

On one-year anniversary of his injury, Zach LaVine is still finding his legs with Bulls

A year ago, Zach LaVine was one of the most explosive players, and obviously dunkers, in the NBA, but all of that came into question.

LaVine tore his ACL against the Detroit Pistons a year ago on this date. He has since been traded from Minnesota to the Bulls and has come back from that injury, but the guard is still working to find consistency in his game as he works his way back into form.

LaVine’s latest effort was a 6-for-18 shooting day with 21 points, nine rebounds and four assists in a 113-103 loss at the Clippers on Saturday. He did log 31 minutes, which is the most he’s logged as the Bulls continue to ease him back into playing shape.

His 21 points were a team-high, but his shooting efficiency is lagging behind his typical numbers. In nine games so far, LaVine is shooting 38.9 percent from the field, which is lower than each of his previous three years in the NBA, and his 35.7 percent 3-point shooting is lowest since his rookie year. LaVine is averaging 13.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game in 22.2 minutes this season.

“He’s still trying to find his rhythm,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said in the video above. “I think he’s turning some pretty darn good looks and turning them into tough shots and tough contested mid-range shots."

LaVine’s last two games have shown progress, even if the 6-for-18 shooting against the Clippers is below his average. In the loss at Portland on Wednesday, LaVine scored 23 points and was 8-for-13 from the field. The previous two games LaVine struggled from the floor, going 3-for-17 against the Lakers and 2-for-11 against the Bucks.

“He’s had stretches in the last few games where I think he’s shown what he can do,” Hoiberg said. “Now it’s about getting his rhythm and timing and getting him to understand when we produce good shots he’s got to raise up and shoot those. He can get a shot at any time he wants. He’s just one of those special players who can do that.”

Hoiberg emphasized how it is going to take time for LaVine after he missed so much time with a torn ACL. LaVine's Bulls debut came on Jan. 13, more than 11 months after the injury.

“We all need to understand something,” Hoiberg said. “He has not played a lot of basketball in the last year so he’ll get it back. I have no concern about that.”

Kendall Gill named to Illini Athletics Hall of Fame

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NBC SPORTS

Kendall Gill named to Illini Athletics Hall of Fame

Kendall Gill can add another bullet point to his resume.

NBC Sports Chicago's Bulls analyst was announced as a member of the University of Illinois' Athletics Hall of Fame for the Class of 2018. Gill enters in the same class as his coach at Illinois, Lou Henson, and former Bulls broadcaster Johnny "Red" Kerr.

Gill was a part of Illinois' 1989 Final Four team and earned consensus Second-Team All-America honors the following year as a senior when he led the Big Ten in scoring (20 points per game). He is third in program history in steals with 218.

He went on to have a 15-year NBA career, which included a stint with the Bulls.

Last year was the inaugural class for Illinois' hall of fame.

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

The Bulls square off against the Sixers tonight on NBC Sports Chicago, with coverage beginning at 6:30 with Bulls Pregame Live. Here are three things to watch as the Bulls begin the stretch run of their regular season.

1. The new rotation: Most of the Bulls’ rotation looks the same, but the addition of David Nwaba, Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Payne will have a different feel. The Bulls clearly want to get a look at these guys before the end of the regular season, meaning they’re not just going to get sporadic minutes. They’ll have to play through their mistakes, play out-matched at times and be put in uncomfortable situations. But the Bulls need to see what they have, especially in Payne, who has missed the entire season to this point with a broken foot.

2. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons: They’re quite the 1-2 punch and have the Sixers looking at their first playoff appearance since Derrick Rose hadn’t yet torn an ACL. Yeah, that’s a long time. Embiid just finished his first All-Star appearance (starting in his second year) and Simmons is the front runner for Rookie of the Year. The Bulls will have their hands full with these two. Luckily…

3. Kris Dunn is back: The Bulls wanted to get Dunn some run before heading to All-Star Weekend to play in the Rising Stars Challenge, and he looked healthy in that thumping against the Raptors last week. The good news is John Paxson says Dunn won’t be on a minutes limit, which means he’s healthy. That, of course, is more important than how he’s playing. It’ll be fun to see him, LaVine and Markkanen play together down the stretch. Their numbers together aren’t great, but the Bulls are 2-2 with all three in the lineup, and tanking or not…it’s more fun to watch when those three are rolling.