Bulls

Bulls' rookie Daniel Gafford to miss 2-4 weeks with dislocated thumb

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USA Today

Bulls' rookie Daniel Gafford to miss 2-4 weeks with dislocated thumb

On the one-year anniversary of losing Wendell Carter Jr. to a season-ending thumb injury that required surgery, Bulls rookie Daniel Gafford dislocated his right thumb just 1 minute, 21 seconds after tipoff.

The Bulls in a statement said that Gafford will miss the next two to four weeks. His streak of registering at least one block in 12 straight games ended.

Replays showed a Wizards pass catching Gafford's right hand. The thumb appeared to bend backward. Gafford ran straight off the court and into the locker room.

"The ball came so fast and I deflected it," Gafford said. "I thought it was just a slight jam of my thumb. I looked at my thumb and it was way more than a jam. It kind of caught me off guard. I had to double-take look at it. This is the first time this has happened to me. I saw the tip of my finger was almost hanging. I was a little starstruck. I ain't seen nothing like that before.

"The pain didn't set in until I got back here in the locker room. Once I sat down, it hurt. It wasn't the type of pain you can't bear. I withstood it. The doctors did a great job. They got me back together. They put my my finger back together like a jigsaw puzzle."

Carter again is out, this time with a severely sprained right ankle that will sideline him for four to six weeks. With both Carter and Gafford sidelined, coach Jim Boylen used Luke Kornet initially. He also featured some lineups with Lauri Markkanen at center.

"It's real disappointing," Gafford said, who had been starting for Carter. "As much as I want to be out there, I'm going to have to take this time to recover and make sure I can go back out there and do the things that I've always been able to do. It's taken a toll on me right now."

NBA Power Rankings: Spirited Elam ending caps off a successful All-Star weekend

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USA Today

NBA Power Rankings: Spirited Elam ending caps off a successful All-Star weekend

The city of Chicago is drawing rave reviews for putting on a tremendous show at All-Star weekend. Sure, it was brutally cold last Thursday and Friday, but once inside the venues, the participants and spectators were treated to some spectacular entertainment.

The weekend ended with the most spirited All-Star game competition we’ve seen in decades... maybe ever. Not many people had heard about the Elam ending which establishes a target score to win the game rather than a typical timed format. It had received positive reviews during the summer TBT (The Basketball Tournament) which is a winner take all team competition involving players representing their former universities. Chris Paul suggested to NBA commissioner Adam Silver that the format could be a big hit for the All-Star game, and boy was he right.

The 10 players on the court competed with the ferocity normally saved for the NBA Finals. We got to enjoy the world’s best players completely locked in on the defensive end, refusing to give any ground, and going at each other with bone-jarring screens and physical back to the basket pounding.

Some analysts feared the 24 points added to the leading team’s total to establish the target score would result in a fourth quarter that would be over in just a few minutes. Instead, the greatest players in the game battled for almost 45 minutes, with the pressure to get to the target score resulting in missed free throws by normally excellent shooters and a blown uncontested lay-up by Team Giannis’ Kemba Walker.

Team LeBron wound up winning by two, anks to a made free throw by Chicago native Anthony Davis to reach the target score of 157, and when it was over, all the players talked about how much fun it was to compete under the new format.

Yes, the 24-point idea came about to honor the memory of Kobe Bryant, and you know that Bryant would have loved the way his brothers competed with all their will and talent. Matter of fact, my only concern was that the players were competing TOO hard. For example, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s chasedown block of LeBron James in the closing minutes was spectacular, but can you imagine if either superstar had been hurt by tumbling to the ground after meeting at the rim?

You can expect some tweaks to the format in future years, and it’s probably unlikely the players will compete with the same kind of physicality we saw Sunday night, given the special circumstances involved with the whole weekend serving as a tribute to Kobe.

But it looks like the NBA has found a format that will re-energize the All-Star game, and that will be the biggest takeaway from a very successful weekend in Chicago.

Now, a look at this week’s power rankings as the schedule resumes on Thursday.

Bulls preparing for possibility of losing Kris Dunn for rest of season

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USA Today

Bulls preparing for possibility of losing Kris Dunn for rest of season

Wendell Carter Jr. said over All-Star weekend that he hopes to return from his sprained right ankle on Thursday as the Bulls begin a four-game homestand starting with the Hornets.

The injury news isn't expected to be as good for Kris Dunn.

The Bulls haven't officially updated Dunn's status since Feb. 4 when they said the guard's sprained right MCL would be re-examined in two weeks. But sources said there's growing belief that Dunn will miss the remainder of the season with the injury, which occurred when Thaddeus Young took a charge and inadvertently crashed into Dunn's knee on the first possession of a Jan. 31 road game against the Nets.

When Dunn suffered a similar injury last season, he missed 23 games. Dunn missed the final four games before the All-Star break, and the Bulls have 27 more beginning with the four-game homestand.

"Dunn still has some swelling in that knee," coach Jim Boylen said before the Bulls lost to the Wizards on Feb. 11 in Washington, their final game before the break. "Once his swelling goes down, he will get re-scanned and re-evaluated.  But he had a lot of swelling."

The plan heading into the All-Star break was to have Carter practice on Tuesday. He has been sidelined since Jan. 6.

On Feb. 6, executive vice president John Paxson expressed hope that Carter, Otto Porter Jr. and Lauri Markkanen would return by the end of the month or in early March to have time to evaluate the majority of what management has identified as the core. Porter has played just nine games all season after suffering a small fracture in his left foot. The Bulls sat Markkanen down after the Jan. 22 game against the Timberwolves with an early stress reaction in his right pelvis.

"They're moving forward and seem to be advancing a little bit every day," Boylen said before the Wizards game of the other injured players.

Before his knee injury, Dunn was one of four Bulls to play in every game, joining Zach LaVine, Tomas Satoransky and Coby White. He had drawn raves for his defensive play and role acceptance and ranks second in the NBA in steals.

Dunn will be a restricted free agent this summer.

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