NEW YORK — Zach LaVine didn’t play Monday against the Nets as part of the Bulls’ plan to avoid having him play in back-to-back games in his rehab from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
He’ll play against the Hornets in Charlotte on Tuesday. That way he won’t have three days off before playing against the Mavericks on Friday at the United Center.
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“He’s a competitor, and he wants to be out there,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “So it’s tough [to tell him he’s sitting], and he feels great. But he understands. He’s still very early in the rehab process. The important thing is [that] he goes into the offseason healthy and has a great summer and a full training camp and can get off to a great start next year.”
Justin Holiday started in LaVine’s place against the Nets.
Vote of confidence
Denzel Valentine started in place of LaVine against the Wizards when LaVine sat out the second game of a back-to-back Feb. 10. But Valentine came off the bench this time. It’s a role he has thrived in.
“The thing Denzel gives you with that second group [is] a playmaker,” Hoiberg said. “In conversations with John [Paxson] and Gar [Forman] about who is going to fit long term, Denzel has shown that he can be a very valuable member of this team, especially in the role he’s playing right now.”
Okafor down, not out
Chicagoan Jahlil Okafor, the pride of Whitney Young, was a “victim of circumstance” in losing his rotation spot during the Nets’ eight-game skid, coach Kenny Atkinson said.
“I can’t say I’m disappointed; I really like having him around,” Atkinson said. “His attitude’s been great. That’s important. It’s circumstances. It’s opportunity. I wouldn’t count him out.”
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