Chicago Bulls' LaVine hits the gym as comeback hits a wall

 
 
Updated 1/29/2018 8:41 PM
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  • Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8) goes to the basket past Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) during the first half on an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, in Philadelphia.

    Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8) goes to the basket past Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) during the first half on an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, in Philadelphia.

Zach LaVine said he followed through on his promise to spend Sunday night shooting baskets at the Advocate Center.

LaVine seemed to hit a wall in his return from ACL surgery. In the past two games, he combined to hit just 5 of 28 shots from the field, a lowly 17.9 percent.

"I was in here about an hour-and-a-half, two hours, just shooting, finding my rhythm," LaVine said before the Chicago Bulls practiced Monday. "Shot feels good. Everything feels good. I've just got to feel good consistently in the game.

"That's my way of, I guess, venting. I come to the court. Obviously, there are going to be frustrations throughout the year. You can't get too high or too low. When I come here and I'm frustrated, that's what I do. I feel good in the gym."

LaVine said his trainer and his girlfriend were both in town, so they came along to help rebound.

"I put a lot of pressure on myself and I expect big things out of myself every day," LaVine said. "They just said let it come to you. You've been out of the game for a year. Everything isn't going to be easy. I expect it to be. They help me keep even-keeled."

LaVine has played in eight games since returning from ACL surgery on his left knee. He has shot better than 50 percent in four games and below 50 percent in four games. He went 2-for-12 against Golden State on Jan. 17, but otherwise these past two games were his worst.

Coach Fred Hoiberg said one reason he wanted to have a longer practice Monday was to get LaVine more reps with his new teammates. LaVine joined the Bulls last summer in the trade with Minnesota but didn't debut until Jan. 13.

"Not only is he trying to work himself into shape, but he's still trying to get used to his teammates and his teammates getting used to him," Hoiberg said. "He got a lot of practice with Windy City, but he's not playing with the Windy City players."

Valentine speaks up:

Denzel Valentine is coming off a productive two games in which he scored a combined 34 points and hit 14 of 26 shots. It's actually his second-best two-game stretch of the season, having scored 39 points against Houston and New York on Jan. 8 and 10.

"He's confident right now," coach Fred Hoiberg said. "I give him credit for helping keep us in the game (Sunday against Milwaukee). Every time he steps on the floor, he's got a swagger, he's got a confidence. He talks. He is one of the guys that's really evolved into a leader because of his voice. And he needs to keep that going."

Bulls horns:

Rookie Lauri Markkanen missed Monday's practice for personal reasons. Nikola Mirotic did not practice due to a left lower leg strain.

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