HEADLINE

Carter close to return as Bulls visit Knicks

Field Level Media

February 28, 2020 at 9:10 pm.

The Chicago Bulls have lost nine of their past 10 games entering Saturday’s visit to the New York Knicks, but the team might at last be gaining an important piece of its rotation.

Center Wendell Carter Jr., out since Jan. 6 with a high ankle sprain, estimated he has an “80 to 90 percent chance” of being part of the rotation at Madison Square Garden. He likely will be under a minutes restriction when he returns.

“It’s been pretty frustrating because I’ve been wanting to get back out there right after All-Star break, but I knew it was going to be a process,” Carter said. “So, just getting my wind back. They told me (the ankle) is not going to be 100 percent perfect when I come back. Just moreso getting my strength back in my ankle because I haven’t been playing for over a month now. It’s going to be a little bit weak but continuing to play, continuing to put more stress on it is going to make it stronger.”

Long-range shooting specialist Denzel Valentine, out for the past seven games with a hamstring injury, also could be back for the Bulls, coach Jim Boylen said.

The injury news that came from Thursday’s practice wasn’t all sunny, however. Rookie guard Coby White injured his back during warm-ups before the workout and did not practice. White has scored at least 33 points off the bench in the past three games and was set to undergo additional treatment Friday before the team determines his status for the Knicks’ game.

The Bulls also announced that Luke Kornet will miss the next six to eight weeks with a severe left ankle sprain and left foot fracture.

New York has lost six straight after opening February with four straight wins. Saturday marks the beginning of a five-game homestand for the Knicks, who are 8-20 at the Garden.

The Knicks contended with injury issues of their own during Thursday’s 115-106 loss at Philadelphia. After taking an elbow to the head in the first half, Dennis Smith Jr. did not return to the game. Frank Ntilikina missed this third straight game with an injured groin, while former Bulls forward Taj Gibson (back) also was held out.

Julius Randle earned his 25th double-double for the Knicks, registering 30 points and 10 rebounds. New York outscored Philadelphia by six after halftime.

“The big thing that we’re looking at as a staff is how well we’re playing just collectively and what we’re doing. … They went out, got some stops, and scored a little bit and were right back in the game,” Knicks interim coach Mike Miller said.

Veteran guard Zach LaVine has remained a constant for the Bulls, starting each of the club’s 59 games while averaging a team-best 25.5 points and 34.7 minutes.

LaVine is coming off a 41-point effort in Tuesday’s 124-122 home loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. His six 40-point games this season rank fifth in the league.

The Knicks and Bulls split their first two meetings this season but haven’t squared off in nearly four months. Each team has won on its home floor, with the Knicks defeating the Bulls 105-98 at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 28 before Chicago responded with a 120-102 rout at United Center on Nov. 12.

The Bulls lead the all-time series 123-108, but the Knicks are 66-45 in games played at home.

Chicago is set to host New York on March 28 to conclude the season series.