Bulls

Thibodeau facing dilemma with Hamilton, Korver?

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Thibodeau facing dilemma with Hamilton, Korver?

Tom Thibodeau again stuck with Kyle Korver at shooting guard in the fourth quarter and extra session over starter Rip Hamilton -- though Hamilton did play an instrumental role at the beginning of the fourth quarter in Thursdays home win over Miami -- deferring to the reserve sharpshooters recent hot streak and it proved to be the right move, as Korver knocked down a big three-pointer late in the contest to help the Bulls survive.

Remarked the coach: He did it for us all last year, too. Hes a big fourth-quarter player. When he comes off those screens, hes great at creating separation. The bigs are doing a great job of setting the screens and Derricks doing a great job of delivering. If the second defenders there, Kyles a very unselfish player. Hell find the open man, so we can play off of that.

Korver himself said: Its a role that Ive been put to do for a long time and those are shots that I like to take. Ive teammates that look for me and Ive got a good little rhythm going on right now. just trying to be aggressive, take good shots -- I dont want to be out there, just jacking up whatever -- but Im hoping that teammates have confidence in me. Jo made a great play in the overtime, just hit me in the corner and just trying to be ready.

However, Thibodeau downplayed the fact that Hamilton -- who was animated in supporting his teammates against his former squad on the sidelines -- wasnt in the game during crunch time.

I thought Rip was terrific. Were going to see how it plays out. Each game, I think Rip does better and better. I thought he was in good rhythm. He had 13 points in 20 minutes tonight. Thats great productivity, so hes coming along about how I would expect, he said. For a guy whos missed as much as hes missed, actually hes playing better than I thought he would, so hes doing fine.

Recently, Thibodeau broke down his thought process with Hamilton.

Were just going to be patient with it. Slowly build it up, he explained. As long as hes playing well that tells you something. Usually, when theres a drop-off, the conditioning component is big. When youve missed the amount of time that hes missed and Derrick has missed, youre concerned about that. You have to get that up to speed.

Were actually very deep at the wing position. As a shooter its enough to be in rhythm, also. You have to strike that balance. We feel good about our wings. Kyle has played well all year. Ronnie has played well. Rip, when hes been healthy, has been terrific. Luol has been great all year and Jimmy Butler has done a good job for us, as well, Thibodeau continued. He has shown you what hes capable of. He had the 18-point quarter the other night. He had 20 points in 20 minutes. I think he can do that but its the efficiency you want him to play with and you want the team to function well on the floor. It gives us something else we can go to. When hes on the floor, he opens things up for people. Hes great moving without the ball, he gets transition baskets and with his catch-and-shoot game, he allows us to play off of that. Both he and Kyle get double-teamed every time theyre coming off a screen and they have the responsibility to make the right play. Rip has been around a long time. Hes seen all the different defenses. He knows where the holes are. Hes very unselfish.

Jimmy Butler's injury produced memories for Zach LaVine, Fred Hoiberg

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USA TODAY

Jimmy Butler's injury produced memories for Zach LaVine, Fred Hoiberg

MINNEAPOLIS — That feeling of having your knee buckle out of nowhere, Zach LaVine is all-too familiar with it.

That feeling of being on the sidelines and watching Jimmy Butler’s knee give out, Fred Hoiberg has been there, too.

Different perspectives, and different reactions but Butler’s knee injury produced a sick feeling to many who watched it Friday night. Butler turned to pivot in the Timberwolves’ game against the Houston Rockets and immediately collapsed on the floor, having to be carried off.

LaVine tore his ACL in Detroit over a year ago, while it was revealed Butler suffered a right meniscus injury. But it looked all the same and LaVine understood the uncertainty Butler must’ve been feeling before the MRI revealed it wasn’t an ACL injury.

“It’s scary,” LaVine said following morning shootaround at the Target Center Saturday afternoon. “I wish him the best. You don’t want to see that happen to anybody. Especially a player of his caliber and what he’s done for the team.”

When LaVine injured his ACL, he actually played a few more minutes before being removed and going to the locker room. The time between being evaluated by doctors and them coming back feels like a lifetime.

“It’s scary. You know you hurt yourself, you don’t know how bad,” LaVine said. “You think you’re good, you’re a tough minded person trying to get through it.”

“I saw him on the ground trying to get up, (Rockets guard) Chris Paul made him sit down. Jimmy’s a tough dude. Thoughts and prayers going out to him.”

Butler and LaVine were the centerpieces of the draft day trade involving the Bulls and Timberwolves. With Butler suffering the injury the night before playing his former team a second time, the timing produced a bunch of memories.

In Hoiberg’s first year with the Bulls, Butler went down in a somewhat similar manner in Denver, a non-contact injury. It looked just as bad, and Butler was taken off the floor in a wheelchair.

Thankfully it was a right knee strain that cost him several weeks but it wasn’t as bad as it looked. Considering the minutes he’s played over the last few years, Hoiberg was asked if Butler pushes himself too hard to be on the floor.

“Jimmy he wants to be out there,” Hoiberg said. “I remember the first year in Denver, he went down with what looked to be a serious injury. Thankfully he was back on the floor after 15-16 games.”

Actually, Butler missed 11 consecutive games before coming back for a nationally-televised game against the Rockets, playing 34 minutes in a Bulls win and missing the next three games for recovery.

“We really worried when he went down but it wasn’t something that ended his season,” Hoiberg said. “Jimmy’s a worker. He’s one of the hardest working guys I’ve seen. It’s a huge reason for the type of player he is, that work ethic to make him one of the elite players in the league.”

With Bulls-Timberwolves looming, Jimmy Butler is diagnosed with meniscus injury

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USA TODAY

With Bulls-Timberwolves looming, Jimmy Butler is diagnosed with meniscus injury

Jimmy Butler won't be facing the Bulls a second time this season.

Butler suffered a non-contact knee injury on Friday night in Houston. The initial X-ray only revealed he didn't have any broken bones, but the MRI had to wait until Saturday.

The Timberwolves announced that the MRI revealed a meniscus injury in Butler's right knee. There is not yet word on how long the All-Star guard will be out of action, but if it wasn't already assumed that he wouldn't play against the Bulls, it's now certain.

Avoiding the ACL tear means avoiding the worse case scenario, but this is likely still going to cause Butler to miss a significant amount of time with about a quarter of the regular season remaining.

The Bulls take on the Timberwolves on Saturday night. Butler dropped 38 points at the United Center in his return to Chicago exactly two weeks ago, but the Bulls won 114-113.

Butler posted on Instagram a reaction to the injury.

Saturday's game will be the returns of Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn to Minnesota after they went the other direction in the Butler trade on draft night last June.