Bulls’ Zach LaVine admits hand injury affected 3-point shot

LaVine admits 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 is now shooting 6-for-36 from beyond the arc after suffering a right hand injury Jan. 11 in Washington.

LaVine scored 14 points, his first game under 20 points since the injury. LaVine is not currently listed on the injury report and has never been listed as worse than probable when listed. But he began wearing a brace taped to his shooting arm during the Chicago Bulls’ win over the Detroit Pistons in Paris.

“I’m playing with the wrong finger, obviously on my shooting hand,” LaVine said. “You can see in the numbers that I’m not shooting the 3-ball very well. I can still get to the bowl and shoot free throws, shoot the average. You can obviously see in the numbers that it affects my stroke. But it’s not going to stop me from trying to go out there and help and contribute.”

LaVine said he’s getting treatment every day for the injury, which he’s not using as an excuse.

“If I’m there, I’m healthy enough to play,” LaVine said.

Asked if it’s the kind of injury that can heal with time or could get worse if he takes more hits in action, LaVine said it’s a wait-and-see situation.

“Some days it hurts. But when I’m out there, I try not to think about it,” he said. “Obviously I’ll try to play as long as I get the brace on.”

LaVine played last season with a torn ligament in the thumb on his non-shooting hand. That injury eventually settled down, 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 totaled seven sacks in his previous four games since suffering the injury.

“Their pressure sped us up a little bit, got us out of some sets,” LaVine said. “They started doubling me and DeMar (DeRozan).”

LaVine and trainer Billy Donovan described the injury as swelling on the knuckle of LaVine’s right middle finger. He’s still shooting 37.4 percent from 3-point range on a high volume of 7.8 attempts per game.

LaVine was also 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 an inbounder and saw an open Alex Caruso cut late in the 5-second count to a wide open spot under the basket.

“No one was really open,” LaVine said. “I think Alex was open late. But I didn’t want to force a pass under the basket. That’s why I took a timeout.”

In the second, which followed the Bulls’ final timeout, Caruso’s pass to Nikola Vucevic was destined for a turnover. Caruso fouled Aaron Nesmith, who sank both free throws for the Pacers’ four-point lead.

“Alex was found on a punt return when Zach called a timeout. He may not have been able to see Alex’s corner. I think the smartest thing to do was call a timeout,” coach Billy Donovan said. “We had a few things because they jumped on DeMar last time. So we were looking to somehow break through Alex’s back door. This was not open. Vooch (Nikola Vucevic) did what he had to do; he flashed towards the middle. And the ball just deflected. We didn’t complete the pass. It would basically be Vooch and DeMar in a two man game. We expected a trap.

“We have to be better in both situations. Zach’s timeout, I got it. He just didn’t see anything open. The other, Vuch, was opened as an exit. We just didn’t get it. could have screened for DeMar a little better pop up. The inspection performance was not great. And the pass was not completed. Vooch could create something. You want to give yourself a chance to at least get out of this situation, going down by two.

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