NEW YORK — After scoring 20 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 109-98 win over the Brooklyn Nets, All-Star Zach LaVine said he’s “glad he’s feeling this well” after playing 37 minutes on his surgically repaired left knee, and both he and coach Billy Donovan didn’t rule out the possibility of him playing Wednesday at home against the Charlotte Hornets.
“I do the best I can every day to feel well,” LaVine said. “It’s a day-by-day thing. It’s between me, the coaching staff and upstairs to obviously manage it and do it the right way and have a long term plan to where it’s not just a short-term (fix).
“I feel (good) right now. Go day by day. Hopefully feel (good) tomorrow and be ready to go.”
LaVine had been expected to sit out of Wednesday’s game in Chicago against the Hornets, following the same pattern he’s gone through over the course of the first two weeks of the season of playing one-half of Chicago’s back-to-back sets.
But Donovan said the team would see how he feels after the flight home to Chicago Tuesday night.
“When Zach missed the first two games, one of the questions I got was, ‘Hey, is he on a minutes restriction?’ He has never been on a minute restriction when he’s been available to play,” Donovan said. “The only conversation I had with him on the bench was he was in a pretty good groove and there was about 5:40 to go and I said, ‘Do you want a quick one?’ And he said, ‘No, I’m fine.’
“If he thought something was bothering him, he’d let me know. The biggest thing now with him is what happens on the flight home, how does he feel in the morning and what does he look like physically? And then we’ll make decisions from there.”
After saying his knee, which he had arthroscopic surgery on back in May, felt good during training camp, LaVine missed the first two games of the season after it reacted poorly to him ramping up his activity ahead of the start of the regular season.
Since missing those first two games, however, he’s played in five of the last six games for the Bulls — with none looking better than Tuesday night’s game here against the Nets.
Going up against the league’s worst defense thus far this season, LaVine torched Brooklyn in the final period, going 6-for-10 from the field as he single handedly outscored the Nets (20-19) by himself to move the Bulls back to .500 on the season.
“It was the same coverages,” LaVine said, when asked what the difference was in the fourth quarter. “I think I just got a little more aggressive. With me, (Nikola Vucevic) and DeMar (DeRozan) all on the court, we go with whoever is playing well, and we play more team concept and I think the second unit I was on the floor at the beginning of the fourth with the second unit and I just wanted to be more aggressive to try to get it going early and caught a rhythm.”
He said he hoped his performance, coupled with his minutes played in Tuesday night’s game, will allow him more latitude going forward.
“I’ve told them I feel good,” LaVine said of the team’s medical staff. “I wanted to play tonight, and these games matter, especially against a team like this. We knew they were going to come out and play hard. So I am glad I was able to go out and help my team win.”