OKLAHOMA CITY — Taj Gibson suffered a sprained left knee early in the fourth quarter of the Bulls’ 102-72 defeat Sunday night.
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Gibson crumpled to the floor, stayed down and eventually stayed in the game in the loss to the Thunder, but during a timeout at the 9:25 mark of the period, he was briefly examined by the Bulls’ training staff and exited the contest, replaced by backup forward Vladimir Radmanovic.
“I don’t know,” Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said, when asked about Gibson’s status. “I haven’t talked to Fred [Tedeschi, the Bulls’ head trainer] yet.”
Gibson received treatment after the game and was unavailable to the media.
Thunder’s Westbrook talks Rose, Bulls
All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, a close friend and offseason workout partner of injured Bulls superstar Derrick Rose, discussed his counterpart’s progress in his recovery from a torn ACL.
“Not much lately, but I’ve communicated with a few times,” Westbrook said before the game, when asked whether he’s spoken to Rose recently. “I see that he’s getting better. He’s almost close to coming back.”
Westbrook was also complimentary of how the Bulls have played without Rose in the lineup.
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“They defend, so as long as you defend, you put yourself in every game, give yourself an opportunity to win a game,” he said. “I think they do a good job of just defending every night.”
Thunder head coach Scott Brooks seconded his point guard’s opinion.
“Chicago’s definitely a physical team,” he said. “They play hard. That’s one thing about the Bulls that you can look at from a fan’s point of view that you can be proud of their team because they leave it on the floor every night. Some nights, they’re not going to score as many points as they would like, but they always stay in the game with their physical toughness. That’s what they’ve done, even when Derrick is with the group. That’s how they play. He’s a physical, tough guy also. But they have a way that they play and they play it. They play it every night.”
Thibodeau praises Thunder
Before the game, Thibodeau talked up Oklahoma City’s role players, such as veteran reserve big man Nick Collison, starting center Kendrick Perkins, who he coached in Boston, and in particular, former Bulls shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha, the Thunder’s defensive stopper, who has developed into a solid three-point shooter.
“It says a lot about the way he’s [Sefolosha] worked on his game, so he continually gets a lot better. They have three guys on their team that I think are sort of under the radar, where they don’t get the credit that they probably deserve, but I’m sure, in talking to Scott this summer and studying their team, when you look at Sefolosha, Perkins and Collison, they bring a lot of toughness and intangibles to the team,” Thibodeau explained about Sefolosha, who scored 11 points Sunday. “They make a team function well, so you can never overlook those guys. The obvious, of course, is Durant and Westbrook, and Martin’s very explosive scorer coming off the bench. But it’s a very well put-together team. There’s not many holes in it and they continually get better.”
After the contest, Thibodeau lauded Thunder superstar Kevin Durant, the NBA’s three-time reigning scoring champion, who had a tough night offensively — he scored 19 points, well below his 29 point-per-game average, on 6-for-19 shooting — but grabbed 16 rebounds, dished out six assists and blocked two shots.
“It says a lot about him. This team, Scott’s done a great job with them. So, Durant didn’t have a great shooting night and he missed some shots that he normally makes, but what he did do, was he — I think it was 16 rebounds, if I’m not mistaken — he went to another area and that’s how you help your team win, and that’s critical,” he said, correcting a reporter’s assertion that Durant snatched “only” 15 boards. “The nights on which you’re not shooting the ball like you normally do, you do other things to help your team win: Set your teammates up, rebound the ball, play great defense and that’s what he’s doing. He’s showing what a complete player he is.”