Bulls’ Zach LaVine flying high in comeback workout; Niko day-to-day

SHARE Bulls’ Zach LaVine flying high in comeback workout; Niko day-to-day

Newcomers Lauri Markkenan (24) and Kris Dunn (32) have played well in their first season with the Bulls. The key acquisition, guard Zach LaVine (8) still is recovering from a torn ACL he suffered last season with the Timberwolves. (James Foster/For the Sun-Times)

Even with Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn playing well, Zach LaVine updates might be the best thing going for the Bulls.

Coach Fred Hoiberg said LaVine continues to impress in his recovery from a torn anterior cruciate ligament after Hoiberg watched him and forward Nikola Mirotic scrimmage with the G-League Windy City Bulls on Friday.

“They both had good practices,” Hoiberg said. “It was good to see those guys getting up and down [the floor] in a scrimmage situation. Zach looked like he almost hit his head on the rim on one occasion on a breakaway.


Bulls play hard but lose eighth straight, 107-106 to Kings at the UC

Fred Hoiberg meets with Lauri Markkanen about his shooting slump

“Niko looks like he’s getting stronger every day — still sore [but] really training-camp type of soreness. But both those guys looked really good. Hopefully we’ll get Niko back soon. And Zach [will] continue to ramp up his activity.”

Mirotic, who could return Monday against the Cavaliers, will work out Sunday at the Advocate Center. “And hopefully give him a good workout Sunday, and we’ll take it from there,” Hoiberg said.

But LaVine, the 6-5 guard acquired with Dunn and the draft pick used to select Markkanen in the Jimmy Butler trade, clearly is the biggest piece of the Bulls’ puzzle at this point. Asked how LaVine’s presence will enhance Dunn’s game when he returns, Hoiberg took it a step further.

“I think he’ll help everybody on the floor,” Hoiberg said, “just because there’s going to have to be so much attention drawn to him with the way he can get out on the break and run, with his ability to create his own shot.

“If teams do switch, I think he and Lauri [Markkanen] in pick-and-roll type actions, will be great. He’s got a skill-set that not many people in this league have — because of his versatility, his range and his athletic ability and his ability to create his own shot. He’ll help everybody — not just Kris, but the whole team.”

Portis out

Forwards Bobby Portis was a late scratch for Friday night’s game against the Kings because of an arm injury.

Nwaba in

Guard David Nwaba played for the first time since suffering an ankle injury on Nov. 4 against the Pelicans. The Bulls were 1-10 in his absence. Nwaba had five points, four rebounds and three assists in the first half.

It’s not your fault

Guard Justin Holiday took the blame for Will Barton’s game-winning reverse layup with 3.2 seconds left. Barton blew by Holiday to get to the rim, then dipped around to avoid Robin Lopez and laid the ball up on the other side of the basket. But Hoiberg said it was a team breakdown.

“It wasn’t on Justin. We made several mistakes,” Hoiberg said. “It was a matter of getting on the wrong side of him and allowing Barton to get to his right hand -after forcing the ball to the middle.”

Holiday scored 16 points and had a key block in the fourth quarter before Barton’s heroics.

“I told Justin, we wouldn’t have even had a chance to win that game without him,” Hoiberg said.

Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash.

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com

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