Bulls’ LaVine sidelined; surgery not thought necessary

Ratings for NBC Sports Chicago broadcasts of Bulls games are down 13 percent from last season.

The Chicago Bulls pulled off a 98-93 win at San Antonio on Saturday night, doing so without the services of leading scorer Zach LaVine.

The high-scoring guard sprained the deltoid ligament in his left ankle in a 97-91 loss to the Orlando Magic on Thursday night in Mexico City and LaVine returned to Chicago for further examination, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune.

However, the Bulls may have dodged a bullet as the team does not believe surgery will be necessary. Chicago (7-23) is expected to be without LaVine for at least a week.

“We are going to consult with some other specialists and try to figure out exactly what’s going on and create a plan of action,” Chicago coach Jim Boylen said, according to Johnson. “We’re disappointed and sorry that he was hurt. But we’re hopeful we can get a good evaluation and get moving toward recovery.

“He’s seeing our guys right now. And he’s going to see some specialists because we want to get as much information as we can. And then we’ll get a diagnosis and start building a rehab schedule.”

LaVine, 23, is having a career season for Chicago, averaging career highs in points (23.8), rebounds (4.9) and assists (4.8) in 35.2 minutes in 28 games, shooting 45.0 percent from the field, 32.6 percent from 3-point range and a career-best 86.9 percent from the free-throw line.

The Bulls retained LaVine after he signed a four-year, $80 million offer sheet with the Sacramento Kings in July as a restricted free agent, an offer Chicago quickly matched.