Bulls

Bulls: Pau Gasol (knee) likely to return next week

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Bulls: Pau Gasol (knee) likely to return next week

Drenched in sweat, Pau Gasol sauntered over to the light media contingent with a smile having just finished his first shooting workout after injuring his knee a couple weeks ago.

“Moving better, feeling better,” Gasol said.

In a season full of injuries for the Bulls, Gasol’s right knee acting up proved virtually no one is exempt from the bug that has ravaged the Bulls like a slow-moving flu. Try as he might, Gasol fought it off as long as he could before the knee swelled heavily enough that he could no longer give it a go.

“I was feeling some discomfort, soreness, pain to a certain degree,” Gasol said. “Trying to play through it, manage it for awhile actually. But after the Miami game the knee gave out and had that reaction.

“The alarms went off and we tried to find out what’s going on and we did, now we’re managing it. Hopefully it won’t get worse and we won’t have an episode like we did after the Miami game.”

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Barring any episode, Gasol could return as early as Monday depending on how he does Sunday and after Monday’s shootaround before the Bulls go for three straight wins against the Sacramento Kings.

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg seemed cautiously optimistic about the possibility, although it appears Wednesday against the New York Knicks looks to be the more prudent assumption.

“He’s doing better, it’s his first day on the floor,” Hoiberg said. “Maybe (Monday). I don’t want to rule anything out at this point. He’s going to have a couple good days if we wanted him to play Monday.”

It almost seemed the Bulls had become too reliant on Gasol offensively, especially without Joakim Noah out for the season and Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose having absences due to injury.

The near triple-doubles began piling up as Gasol was used more and more as a hub, which could’ve taken its toll. At age 35, the Bulls have watched Gasol’s minutes as much as possible, given the attrition.

“Couldn’t bend my knee to a certain degree. Then it pinched,” Gasol said. “That was a big part of it. Now the pounding of play with the fluid and the games and the schedule and the minutes, I don’t know. A little bit of everything I guess.”

Assuming he makes it back without a setback, it gives the Bulls yet another chance to establish some consistency.

[MORE: Bulls' consistency, Derrick Rose leads to win over surging Jazz]

“We’re all healthier and in a better situation,” Gasol said. “You might think about resting for a game or two at times but we don’t have that luxury with the situation we’re in, so we have to push it and to the limit.”

Other injury updates

The Bulls will be without E’Twaun Moore for at least the next week, Hoiberg announced at Saturday’s shootaround. Moore strained his left hamstring early in Thursday’s win over the Brooklyn Nets, resulting in him having an MRI.

Whether he gets back fully in seven days remains to be seen but he won’t be able to do anything for at least four games. Moore has averaged in double figures since the All-Star break, scoring 11.1 points per game on 51 percent shooting and 49 percent from 3 in 15 games (12 starts).

“We’ll evaluate him from there,” Hoiberg said. “It’s something he’ll have to stay off of for awhile, try to keep it loose and stretched out. Get it back in a week and see.”

Seven years ago today LeBron James slammed the Bulls' championship window shut

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AP

Seven years ago today LeBron James slammed the Bulls' championship window shut

The Bulls couldn't have known it at the time, but when LeBron James blocked a Derrick Rose 3-point attempt in the final seconds of Game 5 in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, it was the closest those Bulls would ever get to the promised land.

It happened on May 26, 2011, seven long, long, long years ago today.

The game was an ugly one and certainly a fourth quarter the Bulls would love to have back. They took a 12-point lead on a Ronnie Brewer 3-pointer with 3:53 remaining. The Heat closed the game on a 19-4 run, with James' emphatic block on Rose the lasting image of the series.

James finished with a game-high 28 points and 11 rebounds, and added six assists, three steals and two blocks in 46 minutes.

Rose went just 9-for-29, finishing the series shooting 35 percent from the field after being named league MVP over James.

It's probably unfair to say James and James alone shut the Bulls' championship window. Rose's ACL tear the following postseason realistically was the biggest culprit. But these Bulls had won 62 games, had homecourt advantage, had the MVP, the Coach of the Year and all the momentum. And still they couldn't get it done against James.

That win also sent James to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007. He's been there every year since, though that could change as he faces the Celtics on Sunday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Anyone who lived through the Michael Jordan Bulls remembers those games when he was putting up tons of points, but the Bulls were still struggling overall.

Steve Kerr referenced one of those games to give advice to Kevin Durant during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The TNT broadcast caught the conversation and aired it late in the third quarter.

"When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game," Kerr began the story. "He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren't getting anything going. Phil Jackson said 'Who's open?' He said, 'John Paxson.'"

Paxson scored 10 of 12 points for the Bulls during a fourth quarter run in Game 5 of the 1991 NBA Finals, the series clincher, and famously hit the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to clinch that series. Kerr, who later hit his own championship-winning shot on an assist from Jordan in 1997, was trying to get to get his teammates involved.

"I want to trust your teammates early," Kerr said. "What you're doing is you're getting to the rim and then you're trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?"

Watch the video above to see the interaction.

Durant scored 29 points in Game 5 to lead the Warriors, but Houston took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win.