Bulls Notes: LaVine, Ball, Inconsistent Play

After getting off to an up-and-down start this fall and resting his surgically repaired knee multiple times in the first month of the season, Bulls guard Zach LaVine hasn’t missed a game since November 6 and appears to be hitting his stride. LaVine scored a season-high 43 points in Friday’s win over Detroit, emphatically showing that he’s in midseason form, writes Jamal Collier of ESPN.

“Go look at my last 10, 15 games,” LaVine said after the game. “I been feeling good.”

In his last 13 games, LaVine has averaged 25.5 points, 4.2 assists, and 4.1 rebounds in 35.8 minutes per night, with a scorching hot shooting line of .536/.432/.830.

One of the most encouraging signs, Collier writes, has been LaVine’s soaring field goal percentage around the rim — he has shot 79.5% in the restricted area in December, a major step up from his 58.8% mark in October and November.

“I give him a lot of credit of just sticking with the process and just continuing to work,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “I think when you’re as elite as he is offensively and you start the year off the way he did offensively and just trying to find himself. He put a lot of work into it just to stay the course.”

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • Should LaVine’s best stretch of the season restore faith in this Bulls core? That remains to be seen, but his “noticeably improved health” is the best reason for optimism that the club is better than it showed in the early part of this season, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic.
  • Donovan provided an update on Lonzo Ball‘s recovery from left knee surgery on Friday, telling reporters that the point guard has been doing some light jogging, shooting, and a “little bit” of jumping while shooting, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. “(Since) we last talked, it is progressing, it’s just really slow,” Donovan said. “But there has definitely been some improvements and he’s actually doing more physically than the last time we spoke.” As Schaefer observes, there are still several major hurdles for Ball to clear in the rehab process, including sprinting, cutting, and taking contact without pain.
  • The most frustrating part of the Bulls’ season to date has been their inexplicable losses to some of the NBA’s worst teams despite impressive wins against several contenders, says Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Chicago has a 5-8 record against sub-.500 opponents, including losses to Orlando, Houston, Oklahoma City, and San Antonio, but has gone 5-1 against Boston, Brooklyn, and Milwaukee, the East’s top three seeds.
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