Bulls

Thibodeau on verge of being fastest to 100 wins

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Thibodeau on verge of being fastest to 100 wins

ORLANDOTom Thibodeau might not celebrate the fact that hes on the verge of being the NBA head coach who won 100 games the fastest to start a career, but his peers certainly recognize the feat.

Its a great accomplishment and I think it speaks to the job hes done. Look, theres a lot of great coaches and a lot of people have done great jobs, both last year and this year, but nobodynobodyhas done a better job than Tom has and probably doing a better job this year than a year ago. With all the injuries and everything else, they just keep rolling along, Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy said before Mondays game.

I said to my assistants the other day, They can probably have all five starters out and still beat everybody. It just seems like they win, no matter what and I think it just speaks toand obviously their players deserve a lot of credit, but so does hebut to me, theyre the best team in the league. As far as a team collectively playing together, being unselfish, being committed, all those things, doing what it takes to win, theyre the best team. So, being the fastest to 100, I dont think you need the accomplishment to know the great job that hes doing, but I think its a great honor for him.

Countered Thibodeau, who would break Avery Johnsons record: It doesnt mean anything, other than I want to win. I want to beat Orlando. Thats the only thing that matters. All that other stuff is meaningless.

With stuff like that, its more of a reflection of the team and the organization. We have a good team, we have good players, great management, great ownership, continued last seasons NBA Coach of the Year, who entered Monday with a career record of 99-30.

The respect from your peers, I think, is important, but I think all that stuff, whether its praise or criticism, it shouldnt affect you. You really only answer to yourself and only you know whether putting everything you have into something, and once you do that, you should be fine with everything and I am. I love the group that we have, I think they work hard every day, they give you everything that they have and if were doing the right things, the results will be positive.

Records aside, Thibodeau does appreciate the fact that his team is blessed with remarkable chemistry, which has allowed them to endure a litany of injuries, including stretches without reigning league MVP Derrick Rose.

I think Chuck Daly had this line. It was a great line about chemistry. He said something along the lines of, I dont know how you get it, but when you have it, you know it and when you have it, dont do anything to mess it up either, so I think theres a lot of truth to that, he said. Were fortunate. We have great guys, we have high character, they all play for each other, they play to win and I think it fits well for us.

Chimed in Van Gundy: They just beat Philly and Miami without Derrick Rose, so you certainly cant expect anything other than a great opponent out there tonight. Theyve played very well without him, they just really have. Those point guards have done a great job, Watson and Lucas. Theyre obviously different. Theyre not the attackers he is, but they can both shoot the hell out of the ball. They can make plays off pick-and-rolls and Boozers been tremendous, so has Deng and theyre running more catch-and-shoot plays for Kyle Korver. They find their way around it and they base their game about what they do at the defensive end anyway. Their defense, I think, more than anything is based around Deng and their bigs, their frontline guys, and so, their defense doesnt really suffer.

Theyre the No. 2 offensive team in the league and the No. 2 defensive team in the league. You see those numbers and you say, championship contender. Were the No. 11 defensive team in the league. That says mediocre, he quipped. Im talking basketball character, guys who are unselfish, willing to play roles, not worried about how many shots they get, guys who can come in not having played a lot and come in and be ready and help a team win, like a John Lucas is doing now for Chicago, like a Jimmy Butler is doing. To me, those are the great teams. Not necessarily record-wise, but those are the great teams and thats what chemistry is all about. I thought we had it that year and I certainly see it in the Bulls, and I think thats why theyve been able to overcome injuries.

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

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. An update from Shams Charania of The Vertical said Butler could return for the postseason.

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.