LaVine's triumphant return comes in another close Bulls win

From ESPN - January 13, 2018

CHICAGO -- Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine scored 14 points in his season debut in Saturday night's 107-105 win over the Detroit Pistons, after missing almost a year while recovering from a left ACL injury.

"It felt really good," LaVine said after the game. "Just to be out there playing again, having that feeling; I have not had it in such a long time. To get the win, cap it off; I'd love to play in the fourth quarter, but I will be able to soon. It was just a good night overall."

LaVine had not played in an NBA game since injuring the knee in Detroit (of all places) on Feb. 3, 2017, as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves. He was traded to the Bulls on draft night as part of a deal that sent All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler to Minnesota.

LaVine seemed to enjoy the stage that comes with playing at the United Center, and he appreciated Bulls fans giving him a nice ovation after the game during an on-court postgame interview.

His teammates and coaches were happy to see LaVine back on the floor after watching him put in the rehab work over the past few months.

"Just [him] being there is a huge confidence for us," Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic said. "Because we all know he's been practicing hard, working hard to be back and to be with us. He's a great guy, he's a great teammate, and we were all looking forward for this."

LaVine was introduced last during Saturday's starting introductions, a spot usually reserved for the face of the team. Whether he can live up to that mantle over time remains to be seen, but the 22-year-old has been open about his desire to stay in Chicago for the long term and lock in an extension over the summer. Bulls executive vice president John Paxson also has been open about his desire to have LaVine serve as a part of the Bulls' core moving forward.


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