Following the Bulls' 105-83 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night, Jimmy Butler struggled to take off his uniform, limped slowly to the showers and gingerly took a seat in front or his locker in the Bulls locker room.
It's clear the Bulls' starting shooting guard isn't 100 percent healthy, but he'd be the last player to let that get in the way of the responsibilities he puts on himself toward helping the Bulls to victory.
Butler struggled in the loss, shooting just 2 of 10 from the field and committing a career-worst seven turnovers. He did manage 11 points, six rebounds and five assists in the loss, but it was clear that the third-year veteran was not his usual self, struggling to defend on the perimeter and failing to find high-percentage baskets on offense.
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Despite his struggles, however, Butler wouldn't let his lingering injuries keep him from bearing part of the blame from the disappointing home loss.
"I was good enough to play. I didn't play the way I wanted to, obviously. But that's part of the game; you can't play the way you want to every night," he said. "But that's why we have another one on Monday."
Butler said that a play in the third quarter "bothered (his) toe a little bit" after he pushed off it wrong, but he described the injury as "nothing major," and said "that's what treatment's for" when addressing any bumps and bruises he may have. He's not expected to be on the injury report and said he expects to be ready to go in two days when the Bulls travel to Memphis when they take on the Grizzlies.
And while Butler is in the lineup and contributing significant minutes -- he played a team-high 46 minutes in the loss -- he admitted the treatment he's still receiving for the turf toe injury that cost him 11 games in November and December has taken a toll on the number of hours he's putting in.
"I'm there until night time basically. When I leave the Berto it's 8 o'clock at night, to tell you the truth," Butler said. "This is my job. I want to be great like everybody else wants to be. So that means I have to work harder than everybody else, because I'm not the most talented guy, not the most athletic guy, but I can be the hardest-working guy."
Since he returned from the turf toe injury, Butler has averaged 11.4 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists in more than 32 minutes per game. Those numbers are all down from his season averages, and he's been been asked to take on a larger role with Luol Deng (Achilles) out, but the Bulls' recent rash of injuries and "next-man-up" mentality has pushed Butler to fight through his nagging injury.
"(The toe injury) definitely bothers me a little bit, but I'll be alright because this group of guys just keeps me going," he said. "I'll do anything for this team; I love this team, this city, all my teammates, coaches everybody. They've been in my corner since Day 1 and they're going to stay there. They're going to keep pushing me in the right direction."
No, Butler isn't 100 percent. But that won't keep him from fighting through his injuries to help the Bulls pick up wins and get back into the Eastern Conference playoff discussion.
"I've got to be able to do everything, and do everything well," he said. "With time and reps, I'll be back to normal in no time."