Bulls lose guard Kris Dunn to injury and game to Nets

As though Zach LaVine not making the All-Star Game wasn’t bad enough, how about Nets guard Kyrie Irving lighting up the Bulls for 54 points? Meanwhile, Dunn was lost to a knee injury.

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NEW YORK — Of course there were a few players deep in their own feelings Friday. Bulls guard Zach LaVine and Nets guards Kyrie Irving and Spencer Dinwiddie could make solid arguments that they were All-Star snubs 24 hours after the final reserve spots were announced.

But only one of the three came out and played as though an egregious mistake had been made, and unfortunately for the Bulls, it wasn’t LaVine.

Irving was 10-for-10 from the field in the first half, scoring 27 points and eventually finishing with a season-high 54 as he almost single-handedly eviscerated the Bulls in a 133-118 Nets win. The Bulls struggled all night to get out of the hole.

“He got into a groove, and sometimes it’s hard to break up a guy who is in a groove,” Bulls coach Jim Boylen said.

LaVine, who finished with a team-high 22 points and eight assists, had propped up his numbers — including his 25-point average — ahead of NBA coaches selecting All-Star reserves, but he knew the Bulls’ spot in the standings wasn’t going to help him.

“I understand who I am as a player,” LaVine said. “I don’t think there are 12 people in the East who have had a better year than me. But like I said to you guys at the beginning of the year, it’s on winning. A lot of our individual success comes with winning. And when that comes for us, I think we’ll be happy as a group because it will affect not just me but the coaching staff and other players and the whole city of Chicago. I think that’s a bigger target point. When we get to that winning, I think everybody succeeds.”

When will that actually happen? Friday’s game was a must-win to Boylen, with the Bulls (19-32) entering the weekend in the No. 9 spot in the East, looking up at the Nets (21-26) for the final playoff spot.

“We’re trying to fight for the playoffs and develop this team,” Boylen said. “What we hope to do is get healthy and put this group of guys together.”

They’re not any closer to that — not after guard Kris Dunn went down on the first possession of the game with an injured right knee and was unable to return. He’ll fly home Saturday to be looked at by team doctors.

“He plays through a lot,” LaVine said. “We already know his background and how tough-minded he is. We’ll have his back, though. . . . He meant a lot for us. He’s not scared of anybody. . . . It’s gonna suck.’’

It already has. Dunn’s absence allowed Irving to go more or less unchecked most of the night. He finished a ridiculous 19-for-23 from the field.

LaVine’s performance was respectable but barely a blip against Irving.

“We feel [LaVine’s] an All-Star-caliber player,” Boylen said. “He’s having an All-Star season, and he’s obviously a huge part to what we’re building. So we will move forward. Our goals have not changed.”

But there are unanswered questions. LaVine’s not in the All-Star Game. Will he jump into the Slam Dunk Contest or Three-Point Shootout?

“Still thinking about it,” LaVine said. “I’ll want to do something. We’ll figure out what I’m going to do in the next couple days.”

LaVine is a two-time dunk contest winner and once had an epic battle with Magic forward Aaron Gordon. Could Gordon’s involvement persuade LaVine?

“Um, a little bit,” LaVine said. “Of course. It’s friendly competition.”

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