Bulls

Bulls: Taj Gibson doesn't believe foot injury to be serious

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Bulls: Taj Gibson doesn't believe foot injury to be serious

The Bulls entered the 2015-16 season with arguably the NBA's deepest frontcourt.

They'll head into the All-Star break with three of their top four on the depth chart sidelined.

Already playing without Joakim Noah, likely out for the year after separating his shoulder, and Nikola Mirotic, recovering from an appendectomy, Taj Gibson became the latest of the Bulls forwards to bow out with injury.

Gibson suffered a left foot strain in the third quarter of the Bulls' 113-90 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday.

Fred Hoiberg said after the game he did not have a diagnosis on how severe the injury might be, but Gibson did not appear worried about the soreness. He told reporters the soreness is a byproduct of the left ankle surgery he had during the offseason. Gibson had been playing through the injury during the Bulls' recent seven-game road trip but couldn't get past the pain on the team's final game before the All-Star break.

"(The doctors) said I've got to stay on top of it, but it’s going to be hard with the amount of minutes and how hard I play, just trying to do whatever it takes, diving, just doing a lot of different things," Gibson said after the game. "The wear and tear, just trying to stay healthy and play through things. But it’s frustrating."

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Gibson did not have his foot wrapped up but had a noticeable limp as he walked through the locker room. He finished with four points and three rebounds in 22 minutes.

"It’s just real sore. Hard to put pressure on it right now, but it’s lucky we’re getting the break right now," he added. "I can get my mind back right and get my legs back right, but it’s sore right now."

The Bulls have asked Gibson to take on an expanded role since the injuries to Noah and Mirotic. Gibson averaged 21.2 minutes in October and November combined. Since then, he's seen his minutes per game increase to 27.2 minutes in December, 28.7 minutes in January and now 33.8 per game in February before Wednesday's injury.

But even with the sore foot and the ankle injuries that limited him to 62 games last season, don't expect Gibson to perform any differently as he tries to help shake the Bulls out of their losing funk.

"(We've) got a lot of injuries. Just fatigue of (my) ankle, and when I’m sore the foot kind of gets into it. It’s built for games," Gibson said. "Just playing my heart out, doing whatever I can to help my team. Just trying to play the right way, playing my heart out."

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

The Bulls square off against the Sixers tonight on NBC Sports Chicago, with coverage beginning at 6:30 with Bulls Pregame Live. Here are three things to watch as the Bulls begin the stretch run of their regular season.

1. The new rotation: Most of the Bulls’ rotation looks the same, but the addition of David Nwaba, Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Payne will have a different feel. The Bulls clearly want to get a look at these guys before the end of the regular season, meaning they’re not just going to get sporadic minutes. They’ll have to play through their mistakes, play out-matched at times and be put in uncomfortable situations. But the Bulls need to see what they have, especially in Payne, who has missed the entire season to this point with a broken foot.

2. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons: They’re quite the 1-2 punch and have the Sixers looking at their first playoff appearance since Derrick Rose hadn’t yet torn an ACL. Yeah, that’s a long time. Embiid just finished his first All-Star appearance (starting in his second year) and Simmons is the front runner for Rookie of the Year. The Bulls will have their hands full with these two. Luckily…

3. Kris Dunn is back: The Bulls wanted to get Dunn some run before heading to All-Star Weekend to play in the Rising Stars Challenge, and he looked healthy in that thumping against the Raptors last week. The good news is John Paxson says Dunn won’t be on a minutes limit, which means he’s healthy. That, of course, is more important than how he’s playing. It’ll be fun to see him, LaVine and Markkanen play together down the stretch. Their numbers together aren’t great, but the Bulls are 2-2 with all three in the lineup, and tanking or not…it’s more fun to watch when those three are rolling. 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Of Bulls and Blackhawks, which team will finish with higher draft pick?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Of Bulls and Blackhawks, which team will finish with higher draft pick?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times), Hub Arkush (ProFootball Weekly) and Jason Goch (SB Nation) join Kap on the panel.

The guys debate which team will finish with a higher draft pick when the season ends: Bulls or Blackhawks?

Plus, hear their reaction to the MLB’s new pace-of-play rule change.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: