LaVine acknowledges hand injury affecting 3-point shot originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
INDIANAPOLIS — Zach LaVine missed all seven 3-point attempts in Tuesday night’s brutal road loss to the Indiana Pacers and now is shooting 6-for-36 from beyond the arc since suffering a right hand contusion on Jan. 11 in Washington.
LaVine scored 14 points, his first game below 20 points since suffering the injury. LaVine isn’t currently listed on the injury report and never was listed as worse than probable when he was listed for it. But he did start to wear a taped brace on his hand during the shooting Chicago Bulls’ victory over the Detroit Pistons in Paris.
“I’m playing with a messed-up finger obviously on my shooting hand,” LaVine said. “You can see by the numbers I’m not shooting the ball well from 3. I can still get to the cup and shoot free throws, shoot midrange. Obviously, you can see by the numbers it’s affecting my shot. But it’s not going to keep me from trying to go out there and help and contribute.”
LaVine said he’s undergoing treatment daily on the injury, which he’s not using as an excuse.
“If I’m out there, I’m healthy enough to play,” LaVine said.
Asked if it’s the type of injury that can heal over time or if it can worsen if it absorbs more blows during the course of action, LaVine said it’s a wait-and-see situation.
“It hurts some days. But when I’m out there, I’m trying not to think about it,” he said. “Obviously, I’m going to try to play as long as I put a brace on it.”
Last season, LaVine played through a torn ligament in the thumb of his non-shooting hand. That injury eventually calmed, but LaVine clearly had issues with ball security when the injury first occurred.
LaVine committed six turnovers Tuesday night, four in a scoreless fourth quarter. He had committed to a combined seven turnovers in his previous four games since suffering the injury.
“Their pressure sped us a little bit, took us out of some sets,” LaVine said. “They started doubling me and DeMar (DeRozan).”
LaVine and coach Billy Donovan have described the injury as swelling over the knuckle in LaVine’s right middle finger. He’s still shooting 37.4 percent from 3-point range on high volume of 7.8 attempts per game.
LaVine also was involved in a high-profile play late when the Bulls failed to successfully inbound the ball twice with 29.1 seconds left and trailing by two. On the first, LaVine served as the inbounder and saw an open Alex Caruso cut late in the 5-second count to a wide-open spot underneath the basket.
“Nobody was really open,” LaVine said. “I think Alex was open late. But I didn’t want to force a pass under the basket. So I took a timeout.”
On the second, which followed the Bulls burning their last timeout, Caruso’s pass to Nikola Vucevic was tipped for a turnover. Caruso fouled Aaron Nesmith, who sank both free throws for a four-point Pacers’ lead.
“Alex was open on a backcut when Zach called the timeout. He may not have been able to see Alex’s cut. I think the wise thing to do was to call timeout,” coach Billy Donovan said. “We had a couple things on because they jumped out on DeMar last time. So we were looking to maybe somehow knife Alex backdoor. That wasn’t open. Vooch (Nikola Vucevic) did what he was supposed to do; he flashed to the middle. And the ball just got deflected. We didn’t execute the pass. It was basically going to be Vooch and DeMar in a two-man game. We were anticipating a trap.
“We gotta be better in both those situations there. The Zach timeout, I understood. He just didn’t see anything being open. The other one, Vooch was open as an outlet. We just didn’t get it to him. We could’ve screened for DeMar a little better popping out. The screening execution wasn’t great. And the pass wasn’t executed. Vooch could’ve created something. You wanna give yourself a chance to at least get a shot up in that situation, being down by two.