Running with the Bulls: More Injury Problems

Running with the Bulls: More Injury Problems

Saturday, Mar. 27, 2010
7:21 P.M.

By Aggrey Sam

When people think of something contagious, its usually the flu. For the Chicago Bulls, however, an epidemic of plantar fasciitis has infected the team this season.

With the flu, you kind of know when youre going to get over it, said Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro. Our situation is very difficult.

Rookie James Johnson is the latest victimjoining Joakim Noah and fellow first-year forward Taj Gibsonand will miss tonights game against New Jersey with a tear in his right foot. Johnson incurred the injury early in Thursdays loss to Miami, but returned to action later in the contest, although he missed Fridays practice.

I just went out there and tried to warm up on his right foot. It wasnt doing so well, said Johnson, who attributed adrenaline to being able to continue to play Thursday night. It was hurt on Thursday, but I love my teammates and Im going to ride with them, no matter what. Im not going to let a little pain stop me. No doctor told me what happened to it so as far as I know, I was good to go and Im going to keep fighting with my dudes as long as I can.

Thats just part of the game. Youre into the game, youre not really worried about pain, youre just worried about winning, Johnson added, before detailing the injury. Ive felt it earlier in the season, but it didnt really faze me. I knew I could play through it. It wasnt anything that was going to keep me out or get massive treatment, noted Johnson.

I want to go out there and give 100 percent while Im out there and I know I cant do that tonight.

Reserve guard Jannero Pargo will start in Johnsons placeJohnson was already starting as a replacement for injured small forward Luol Dengas Del Negro continues to opt for a three-guard look with limited bodies in the frontcourt on the roster. Moving forward, the unpredictability of Johnsons injury, as well as Joakim Noahs return from his own plantar fasciitis issues, inhibits his ability to plan for upcoming matchups.

No one has any idea right now how his foot is going to react. He tried to loosen up prior to tonights game and was in too much pain, said Del Negro. Its partially torn so even if hes able to go, its going to be on a limited minutes basis

Theres a possibility thats hes going be out for a little bit just because he partially tore it, he continued. He came back and played a little bit, which is encouraging, but maybe it swelled up after the game.

For him to even try and go through exercises, I was surprised. Its a very painful injury.

our situation is very difficult

As for Noah, Johnsons comrade-in-feet, is expected to see 20 minutes of action this evening, as he continues to recover from his own bout with the foot ailment, with increasing playing time each period. However, Del Negro was unsure whether that pattern would hold for tomorrows game at Detroit.

I dont know if hes medically cleared. Really what we do is see how he feels after each game, explained Del Negro. If hes finetheres no swelling and hes not changing his stride or his gait, all thatthen we increase his minutes. If hes really sore, then we back it off. The back-to-back might be a little bit of a challenge, but well make that decision tomorrow before the game.

Regarding tonights game, Del Negro focused on the significance, regardless of his ailing roster.

A lot of question marks right now, but we still have a game to play. We have to have a sense of urgency tonight, no matter whos playing and if were good enough, well win, said Del Negro. We dont really have a small forward with Luol and James being out so well just have to make do with a smaller lineup at times. We can play Hak Hakim Warrick and go a little bit bigger. Well just have to mix and match.

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Zach LaVine drops 44 in Cleveland

USA Today

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Zach LaVine drops 44 in Cleveland

On this edition of the Bulls Outsiders podcast, Matt Peck, John Sabine, and David Watson discuss the Bulls win in Cleveland, create their own Bulls Royal Rumble and squash the beef with Mark Giangreco.

1:00 - Jim Boylen's best moment of the season

2:30 - Another All-Star performance from Zach LaVine

4:30 - Luke Kornet had a good game for Luke Kornet

5:45 - Reaction to some criticism of LaVine's game

8:15 - Can one game change a players All-Star chances?

9:00 - The newest edition of "Guess what D-Rose did?"

11:30 - Guys react to viewer comments

14:00 - The Chicago Bulls Royal Rumble 2020

22:30 - Guys react to more viewer comments

25:10 - The guys squash the beef with Mark Giangreco

Listen here or via the embedded player below:

Bulls Outsiders


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'He wants to be great': Zach LaVine showcases all-around game vs. Cavaliers

'He wants to be great': Zach LaVine showcases all-around game vs. Cavaliers

Entering play, it had all the makings of a dismal affair. Bulls-Cavaliers. One a bottom-feeder in the Eastern Conference; the other an underachieving squad enduring an injury influenza. 

By game's end, it was anything but. Thank you, Zach LaVine. 

LaVine authored another chapter in what has become a sensational season Saturday night, tallying 44 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists on 16-for-30 shooting (3-for-5 on 3-pointers) en route to a 118-106 Bulls victory.

"All-Star performance," head coach Jim Boylen said after the game. "I thought he was just unbelievable. Driving it, shooting it, creating. He got backdoor cuts, he got it in all different ways."

This was LaVine's fourth 40-point game of the season (tied for third in the NBA), and with it, he is now averaging 30 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists on 48.4/37/81.4 shooting splits in the month of January. If you're not satisfied with that 14-game sample size: Since his record-smashing explosion against Charlotte on Nov. 23 (32 games) that stat line reads 28.2 points (tied for fifth in the NBA), 5.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists on 46.1/40.6/83.

Those numbers are phenomenal — especially on supserstar volume — and are made even more impressive by the Bulls' offensive struggles around him. Tonight, in spite of 19 points, six assists and 8-for-11 shooting from Tomas Satoransky and spot buckets all around, the Bulls scored at a rate of just 77.8 points per 100 possessions with LaVine off the floor. With him on: 128.4. 

That differential should knock you out of your chair, and that off-rating is actually improved from the team's 66.3 mark without LaVine in Friday's 99-81 loss to Sacramento. LaVine logged 39 minutes against the Cavaliers one night after saying he was "prepared" for any amount of increase in playing time. 

"He was frustrated after last night [against Sacramento], our team was frustrated, and I thought he responded, and I think that's what good players do," Boylen said.

LaVine's aforementioned 13 3-pointer outburst against the Hornets came one night after being yanked from a blowout loss to the Heat for what Boylen called "three egregious defensive errors." In Cleveland, he nearly amassed his first career triple double the night after — arguably — the Bulls' most lackluster offensive performance of the season.

"We didn’t come out to play the right way [against Sacramento], I just wanted to come out more aggressive," LaVine said. "Different mentality, the whole team, we were upset about the loss, and I took it upon myself to come out there and just be aggressive."

Asked if he was cognizant of his progress towards a triple double, LaVine said he discovered too late.

"I ain’t have one before," he said. "Literally, like, two minutes to go I was like alright maybe I should get a couple assists. But the game got out of hand, so I’ll get one eventually."

But even without that milestone, the improvements to LaVine's all-around game are notable. Since Wendell Carter Jr. went down with a high ankle sprain on Jan. 6, LaVine is the Bulls' leading rebounder, averaging six boards per game. Against Cleveland, he amassed five of his eight assists in the third quarter as the Cavaliers threw some aggressive defensive looks at him — including being guarded by Tristan Thompson on multiple occasions. He didn't just facilitate, he adjusted in the flow of the game.

"Third quarter they switched up their defense and I felt like I had to be a little more of a facilitator, there was a lot of attention," LaVine said. "I try to address the game the way they’re playing me but still keep my aggressiveness scoring the ball cause I know that breaks down defenses."

So, for now, the Bulls stay afloat. Wiping out the Cavaliers is no hefty feat, especially for a team that maintains playoff aspirations. But it's a nice response to the Sacramento dud, and LaVine's night gives him another notch in both his All-Star and general supserstar cases.

"He wants to be great," Boylen said.

He could very well be on his way.

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