Bulls Insider

Zach LaVine says thumb injury is 'going to take some time'

/ by K.C. Johnson
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
Bulls Insider

Zach LaVine spoke following the Chicago Bulls’ first loss of the 2021-22 season.

“It wasn’t pleasant, but it’s doable,” he said.

In another breath, he added, “it’s going to take some time.”

LaVine was talking about his sprained left thumb, which he played through for the first time Thursday night, logging 35 minutes in the Bulls’ 104-103 loss to the Knicks on Joakim Noah Night.

But the All-Star could’ve been talking about a whole host of issues the Bulls are experiencing, even if they’re doing so from an impressive 4-1 perch. A lack of offensive flow. Rebounding and size issues, which won’t be helped by the fact Patrick Williams exited with a sprained left wrist suffered after a flagrant foul by Mitchell Robinson.

The most acute situation on the concern meter is LaVine’s thumb, which sported thick protective tape. He admitted to favoring it early as he began the process of learning to try to play through it. Still, he impressively scored 17 of his 25 points in the first half.

But it was clear LaVine will be navigating new waters trying to play with the injury. And it’s not going away any time soon.

“It will be like this for a little bit,” he said. “Knock on wood that nothing happens in the game to where it re-aggravates it. But it has to play its course. They were telling me it’s almost like a grade-2 ankle sprain but in my thumb. So it’s going to take some time.

 

“There are certain shots and ways I can’t go. It’s like dribbling with four fingers. Just gotta find ways to manage it. I have a day to see some more (protection) things. There’s not a lot you can do to it. Obviously, if I don’t tape it, I’m going to be at risk for tearing it. Even with taped, it is (risky). It was pretty protected. I got hit a couple times.

“It doesn’t affect my shooting as much because I shoot with my hand out of the way. But gripping the ball and handling the ball is tough. So that’s why I’m trying to find easier ways to get shots or less dribbles.”

As for the other issues, this marked the third straight game the Bulls endured a large rebounding disadvantage. The Knicks also grabbed 11 offensive rebounds, posted a 14-4 advantage in second-chance points and forced Billy Donovan to dust off Tony Bradley for the rotation.

Donovan didn’t have much of an update on Williams’ wrist injury. But the fact a player who missed only one game last season had to exit isn’t ideal.

Donovan has been bemoaning the lack of offensive rhythm, particularly in halfcourt sets, for several games now. The Bulls’ best offense in the early stages of this season have come in transition — off defense.

LaVine playing at less than 100 percent isn’t optimal to change that.

“We’re still building, trying to get a rhythm, trying to get an understanding of where are shots are going to come from,” DeMar DeRozan said. “We have lapses where sometimes we’re rushing or forcing. That’s expected. It’s going to come with time.”

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