LaVine could be next to join Bulls' injury list
The Bulls' theme for the trade deadline was, 'Wait a few weeks and we might finally have everyone healthy."
For now, though, there's still a pile of injuries and it might get worse. Coach Jim Boylen said Zach LaVine sat out Saturday's practice and is questionable for Sunday's game in Philadelphia with a sore neck.
The injury stems from a collision during the third quarter of Thursday's loss to New Orleans when a Pelicans player landed on the back of LaVine's head.
"I think it was (Jrue) Holiday who landed on him," Boylen said Saturday at the Advocate Center. "Popped him pretty good. (LaVine) played through it. He was hurting, but he played through it. He was very sore and stiff yesterday, and still pretty sore and stiff today."
LaVine is one of three Bulls to play in every game this season, joining Tomas Satoransky and Coby White. And as badly as the Bulls have played lately, eighth-place Orlando was eight games below .500 heading into Saturday's home game against Milwaukee. The Bulls may not be chasing the playoffs, but the playoffs keep chasing them.
As for the other injuries, Boylen is hopeful center Daniel Gafford will be able to play against the Sixers. He returned from a dislocated thumb in Toronto last week, then promptly turned an ankle and missed the Pelicans game.
The Bulls have two road games left before the all-star break, but right now, it looks like center Wendell Carter Jr. might be the only player who will be ready to return after the break. Carter has been out with a sprained right ankle since Jan. 6, but has been moving around on the court and taking shots.
Kris Dunn (knee sprain) is still using crutches. Otto Porter has been running and shooting around, but he's been out since Nov. 6 with a broken foot, so even if all goes well, he'll probably start the process of getting back in basketball shape after the break. The Bulls are proceeding with caution on Lauri Markkanen's stress reaction in his pelvis.
"I don't foresee him as of right now practicing after the break," Boylen said of Markkanen. "There is hope that other guys might be. Anything to do with bone takes time. So we'll manage that too.
"The amount of trauma that this team has faced is unusual. It's a drain on everyone. We have to fight through it in this moment. We'll evaluate when we get a chance to evaluate."
The best news for the Bulls during the past couple of weeks has been the play of Chandler Hutchison. The second-year forward has averaged 12.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.4 steals over the last eight games. He was able to drive the baseline at will against New Orleans, but didn't always finish at the rim.
On Sunday, he might get a chance to try guarding Sixers oversized point guard Ben Simmons, who has always been a handful for the Bulls. But Hutchison has also had his share of injuries. His longest stretch of consecutive games played was 20 last season. He's at 17 now.
On Saturday, he was asked if he has any sort of plan in mind to try to stay on the floor.
"No, there's nothing you can do to do that," he said. "I wish there was. I wish there was a plan to make sure that you stay healthy. You know, if there was, then nobody would be on the injured list."
Hutchison has said one of the keys to his improved play is taking the attitude of being as aggressive as possible, because you never know when another injury might knock him to the sideline.
"Attacking the rim has just been something that I've excelled in," Hutchison said. "So I don't know if it's a baseline thing, I'm just kind of reading the game.
"With a couple dribbles and my strides, it's almost impossible to stay in front of me and it's either I'm getting to that rim or really now guys are clogging the paint to make that extra kick out to try to find extra shots."
Bulls game dayBulls game day
Bulls vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 5 p.m. Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center
TV: NBCSCH; Radio: WSCR 670-AM
Outlook: The 76ers (32-21) have been slightly disappointing this season, but they have the league's best home record at 23-2. ... In Friday's 119-107 victory over Memphis, C Joel Embiid sat out the second half with a stiff neck, so his status for this game is unclear. SG Josh Richardson returned Friday after missing six games with a hamstring injury. ... SG Furkan Korkmarz poured in 34 points against the Grizzlies, beating his previous season-high of 24 points he scored against the Bulls on Jan. 17. ... The Bulls always seem to struggle against 6-10 PG Ben Simmons, who's averaging 16.7 points, 8.3 assists and 6.7 rebounds. SF Tobias Harris (19.2 ppg) is the team's second-leading scorer after Embiid. ... The Bulls have lost four in a row at Philadelphia, including the 100-89 defeat earlier this season.
Next: Washington Wizards, 6 p.m. Tuesday at Capital One Arena
-- Mike McGraw