While injured Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine heads toward left knee surgery Tuesday in Los Angeles, his team thumped a depleted Chicago team 117-89 Sunday at Target Center.
With their best long-range shooter done for the season, the Wolves have been outdone 58-34 in made three-pointers since LaVine was injured at Detroit on Feb. 3.
They made only two of their first 16 three-point tries, but ultimately were only outshot 10-6 on threes Sunday after forward Nemanja Bjelica rediscovered his shooting touch and made three of four threes in the fourth quarter.
“That’s just the way of the league,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “[LaVine] was averaging 19 points a game, so he was a primary scorer. We can’t replace Zach individually. We have to do that collectively. Everyone’s capable of playing defense. Everyone’s capable of rebounding. Everyone’s capable of sharing the ball. So if we do those things, we’ll be in position to win. That’s what it takes to win.”
Thibodeau has been through this before, with Derrick Rose in Chicago.
“Every situation is different,” Thibodeau said. “[LaVine is] doing well. He’s in a good place. He’s really a tough guy mentally. I think he has a great understanding how he wants to work and approach this. I think there’s a lot for him to gain.”
LaVine will have his torn anterior cruciate ligament repaired at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in collaboration with Wolves team orthopedic surgeon Diane Dahm of the Mayo Clinic, the Wolves announced.
Thibodeau praised Bjelica’s play, particularly when he scored 14 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter when he went 5-for-9 from the field.
“If you keep working, your shot will come,” Bjelica said. “Season is too long, so there’s always ups and down and you just need to be ready.”
Chicago played without four injured or ill players, including All-Star guard Jimmy Butler, superstar Dwyane Wade and forward Nikola Mirotic.
Butler has missed four of the past five games because of a sore heel. Wade fell on his hands Friday at Phoenix; the left wrist merely hurt Sunday, the right one was still swollen.
• Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg returned to Minnesota, where he played from 2003 to ’05 and was a front-office executive from 2006 to ’10. “The ’03-’04 season was one of the most fun seasons I’ve ever been a part of,” he said, “and if Sam Cassell had stayed healthy, I think we would have had a real shot of winning a championship that year. But the love we had, the fan support we had … the two years I had an opportunity to play here were really special.”
• Wolves rookie point guard Kris Dunn played his second consecutive game after missing four games because of a bruised hand. He played 12½ minutes, missed both shots he took and had a rebound, an assist and three turnovers.
• Hoiberg, after saying forward Paul Zipser wouldn’t play because he was ill: “He thinks it may be something he ate, bad walleye or something.”