Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010
Updated 4:31 AM
By Aggrey Sam
PHOENIX Just prior to Wednesdays tip-off, Bulls starting power forward Taj Gibson was ruled out for the teams thrilling double-overtime win over the Suns. Gibson suffered a right ankle injury previously misidentified as a foot injury, prompting initial concerns of Gibson further aggravating his plantar fasciitis issues from last season during Sundays team practice in Los Angeles.
After the Bulls win Wednesday, Gibson further clarified the issue.
Its my ankle. I thought it was my foot, but after MRIs, its my ankle. A lot of information, but Im fine, said Gibson, who scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in Tuesdays loss to the Lakers, despite not practicing in the days leading up to the game. It was a little swollen. Im getting ready to play, hopefully getting ready to play Friday for the Bulls game against Denver.
I tried to play against the Suns, but its hard to pressure on it after guarding and playing 40 minutes last night. Its a little tough, just trying to scramble. I didnt want to hurt my team because I knew it would be tough on defense for me to switch lanes because its real painful, said Gibson, who confirmed to CSNChicago.com a Bulls officials text message that he wouldnt play against Phoenix as he was seated on the bench during his teammates pregame warmups. I didnt really panic. I just knew it was a long game. I wanted to get out there and compete, I just didnt want to hurt my team.
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau concurred with Gibsons assessment that he could have played, but was sidelined more for precautionary measures and indicated the second-year forward would be a game-time decision for Fridays game against the Nuggets.
He probably could have played. We just want to make sure he gets the rest and hes fine. Another day off (Thursday) and hopefully hes ready to go against Denver, said Thibodeau. Its just like the other day Tuesday in Los Angeles. He comes to practice, he warms up, if it loosens up and it feels good, then he goes. If it doesnt loosen up and he thinks its a problem, then hes not going to go.
Said Gibson: Knowing me, Im going to go out there Friday.
Well see. Ill just listen to coach and listen to the Bulls team trainers, listen to Bulls team doctor Brian Cole he came in today just to see my foot. The positive thing is no tears, no ligament damage. He just said its bruise or something deep in the tissue. I just took a day off. They the Bulls medical staff just told me to relax and get ready for next week, he added. Weve got great trainers. Weve got a great coach; he understands minutes and stuff like that. Getting back to just getting ice and treatment tonight and tomorrow.
Reserve swingman Ronnie Brewer started in Gibsons place Wednesday, with starting small forward Luol Deng shifting over to power forward.
Slow start. In fairness to him, we didnt know Taj wasnt going to play until the last minute, Thibodeau said of Brewer. I dont know if he was ready to start, but hes been playing very well.
Second-year forward James Johnson, out of Thibodeaus regular rotation recently, perhaps gave himself some new life with his solid performance off the bench Wednesday, as well as his power forward build combined with perimeter skills.
Were looking for energy and James has actually been practicing very, very well and his approach has been great. He comes in, hes putting in a lot of extra time, so I have a lot of confidence in him, said Thibodeau. His athleticism really stood out. We were flatI thought he gave us a big lift. Hes a high-energy guy.
When Carlos went out, we were very confident that Taj would step up and hes done thatif Taj is out, the next guy steps up and he gets the job, he continued. We need everybody in that room. Everybodys going to get a chanceTaj was out, so were down a man and the next guy has to be ready to step up.
Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.