While the Bulls opened 2012 with a decisive victory over the Grizzlies in their home opener, they didnt start the new year in the best of health.
Starting shooting guard Rip Hamilton was held out of the lineup Sunday due to a groin injury, while backup point guard C.J. Watson sprained his left elbow while diving for a loose ball late in the rout.
They did an X-ray and its not showing anything, so well know more Monday, Thibodeau said about Watson, who didnt talk to reporters after the game, but had his left arm in a sling in the Bulls locker room. We want to see what the swellings like. Hell have it re-examined.
Watson will undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of the injury and his status will be determined afterwards.
Hamiltons situation was an entirely different scenario, as Thibodeau didnt inform the media about Hamiltons health status when he spoke to reporters during his regular pregame media availability Sunday, despite being asked about the teams overall injury situation.
He had a tweak, so it was a game-time decision, but we wanted to play it safe. We wanted to make sure hes good, so we decided at the last minute to sit him out, Thibodeau said of Hamilton, who apparently injured his groin during Fridays win over the Clippers in Los Angeles, but was still a partial participant in Sunday mornings walkthrough-style shootaround. Hamiltons status is day-to-day. I just asked him on the way out. He just said hes feeling better. With those type of injuries, Id rather be safe right now.
Reserve swingman Ronnie Brewer started in Hamiltons place and scored 17 points, tied with Carlos Boozer for the team-high, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out five assists.
I knew Rip was a little banged up this morning, but I thought that he was going to be able to go. It wasnt until right before we met and he didnt put on his jersey that I knew I was going to get the start, said Brewer, who began training camp with the Bulls first unit and started the teams preseason opener in Indianapolis. Hes a true professional and a lot of players play with pain, so everybody assumed that he was going to play tonight. But as people know, if guys get hurt or guys are not playing well, a lot of guys on this team can step in and do a good job.
When Watson went down, Thibodeau turned to third-string point guard John Lucas III, who, unlike Brewer, is a deep reserve and doesnt normally see any action. Lucas was very aggressive on offense in his 10 minutes of playing time, scoring eight quick points in the win.
When you have an injury, the next guys got to step in. thats why you have them, said Thibodeau, who coached Lucas in Houston and worked as an assistant coach under his father. John has filled that role before.
Ironically, Lucas was playing against one of his college teammates Grizzlies guard Tony Allen, a Chicago native, whom Lucas played with at Oklahoma State, which the duo led to a Final Four appearance in the contest.
Im very confident. My team has a lot of confidence in me. We all stick together. Were like a family, were like brothers, Lucas told CSNChicago.com. When C.J. went down, I was like, Lets get up, because thats my brother.
"I dont want anybody to get hurt. Its just the time when you have to be ready and Im going to make sure Im going to stay ready," Lucas continued. "I go to practice every day, I practice like its a game, so whenever something like this unfortunately happens, I can come in and not miss a beat, and pick up where C.J. left off.
While the Bulls as an organization wouldnt officially speculate as to how long Watson could be out, teammate Joakim Noah told reporters, Hes going to be out for a while.
Watson's late-game heroics almost sparked an improbable comeback against his former employer, Golden State, in the teams only loss of the season thus far. He also had a career-high nine assists in the Bulls win over Sacramento.