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The "Highly Questionable" crew discusses if Kick Hinrich was afraid of DeAndre Jordan.

Rockets Rising

March, 2, 2015
Mar 2
1:04
PM CT


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James Harden and the Rockets made a statement on Sunday beeating the Cavs. They were rewarded by Marc Stein.

Jimmy Butler doesn't need surgery

March, 2, 2015
Mar 2
1:01
PM CT
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Jimmy Butler is expected to miss three to six weeks with a sprained left elbow, the latest setback for the injury-plagued Chicago Bulls.

However, Butler will not need surgery to repair the injury, a league source confirmed to ESPNChicago.com.

Butler was diagnosed with a Grade 2/3 ulnar ligament sprain and a small bone impaction injury after undergoing an MRI on Monday, one day after he was injured in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

He suffered the injury when he collided with Clippers center DeAndre Jordan three minutes into the second half Sunday and did not return.

The hope within Butler's camp is that rest and treatment will allow him to come back before the regular season ends and get a few games under his belt alongside Derrick Rose, who is expected to be out four to six weeks after having knee surgery Friday.

Butler, who became an All-Star for the first time this season, has been the Bulls' best two-way player this season, averaging 20.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 55 games.

The Bulls are trying as best as they can to keep a positive attitude in the wake of the latest injury news, but veteran Kirk Hinrich knows the Bulls are in a tough spot.

"[Butler] is a two-way player, All-Star, he's just having an unbelievable year," Hinrich said. "It's a huge loss but, you know, we've kind of been through this before."


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Darren Rovell discusses Michael Jordan's first appearance on Forbes' World's Billionaires List.

Van Gundy sounds off on Bulls, Thibs

March, 1, 2015
Mar 1
9:24
PM CT
Greenberg By Jon Greenberg
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- With about nine-and-a-half minutes left in the third quarter of the Los Angeles Clippers' 96-86 win over the Chicago Bulls, ESPN’s play-by-play man Mike Breen started to introduce a juicy storyline: The perceived conflict between Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau and his general manager, Gar Forman, and vice president of basketball operations, John Paxson.

Breen first asked Mark Jackson to speak a little about the matter, to set up the main reason he was bringing this topic up on national TV: His partner Jeff Van Gundy, a good friend and former boss of Thibodeau, had famously inserted himself into the story this season.

But in classic Bulls fashion, an injury, this time Jimmy Butler's hyperextending his left elbow while on defense on a DeAndre Jordan screen, delayed things for a few minutes.

After a commercial break, Breen asked Van Gundy if he could discuss his previous comments, which occurred on-air in a January game between the Bulls and Dallas Mavericks and then this past week, to a Chicago media writer.

Van Gundy told Ed Sherman, writing for the Chicago Tribune, that he was asked by Thibodeau's agent to "tone it down" after the Mavericks game, while noting Forman yelled at him at the Dallas game.

“Can you speak about it without sleeping with the fishes?” Breen said.

Van Gundy was happy to, and during his conversation with Breen, the ESPN cameras cut to Forman and Paxson, with the latter staring intently at his phone.

“What I said previously, I stand by,” Van Gundy said. “I think, over the course of time, they’ve been unfriendly and they haven’t been pro-coach.

“I think you go all the way back to Doug Collins’ time here, then Phil Jackson, and go on and on and on. So I don’t really feel the need to reiterate too much. That’s what I said. That’s what I believe.”
[+] EnlargeJimmy Butler
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesJimmy Butler's All-Star season has been interrupted by a hyperextended elbow.

But Van Gundy’s relationship with Thibodeau complicates the story.

After the January comments, Thibodeau told Chicago reporters, "My job is to coach the team. That's what I worry about. [Van Gundy] doesn't speak for me. I don't speak for him."

There is certainly some truth to that. Van Gundy is outspoken and typically defends his fellow coaches in a league that shuffles through coaches on a regular basis.

"The only thing I have to be concerned with is that everything I say, unfortunately, is taken like it’s coming from Tom, which is not true,” Van Gundy said. “Because I speak for myself. This is something I believe in.”

Then, Van Gundy being Van Gundy, he slipped in a zinger.

"John Paxson, to be fair, said he thought what I said was ‘pathetic,’” Van Gundy said in reference to a different Chicago Tribune story. “He was so mad at me I thought I had traded LaMarcus Aldridge for Tyrus Thomas and not him.”

The Bulls, naturally, aren’t pleased with Van Gundy’s comments, though Paxson declined to comment when reached by text message Sunday afternoon.

But no one cares if a broadcaster doesn’t like a front office. The concern is the possible breakup between Thibodeau, who has won 242 of 371 games (65 percent) in five seasons -- Derrick Rose has played in 176 -- and the Bulls, who have given him a strong group of players with which to work.

For all the jokes about Tyrus Thomas, the Bulls got ridiculous values late in the first round by drafting Taj Gibson (No. 26 in 2009) and Jimmy Butler (No. 30 in 2011) and trading for the rights to Nikola Mirotic (2011) and Omer Asik (2008) on draft night.

Picking Joakim Noah ninth in 2007 worked out as well.

The funny thing is this isn’t the time for this story. The Bulls and Thibodeau have a lot more to do this season.

The Bulls (37-23) are a half-game out of second place in the Eastern Conference and reeling from injuries. Rose is out for four-to-six weeks after a second procedure on his right medial meniscus. The earliest he will return will be with nine games left in the regular season.

Like any relationship between a coach and his front office bosses, there are the typical conflicts. Like many professional sports marriages that eventually end in divorce, this one could end because of a respect gap between the two parties -- as in, each side feels the other doesn't respect it enough.

Both are probably right, in a sense.

Thibodeau has two years remaining on a contract extension he left sitting unsigned on his desk for months in the 2012-13 season. He's an expert at preparing his teams for games, but he chafes at the narrative that he wears players out.

"While you’re talking Tom Thibodeau, he loves his team, he loves his players,” Breen said. “He wants to coach this team, and he loves this squad."

"He loves -- he absolutely loves -- the city, the fans and his players," Van Gundy said. “You know how ridiculous it is we’re even talking about a coach that’s won I think 65 percent, I think it’s the fifth-highest winning percentage all-time for guys who have coached five years or more. Do you know how silly it is? But it’s obviously true, or they would’ve come out and said it’s not true at all.”

The Bulls, though, believe they’ve supported Thibodeau at every stop. He might disagree.

Because the main problem with tracking this story is that most of the action happens behind closed doors in offices and hallways and through text messages. It is a truly NBA story, one with no winners or losers but a lot of opinions.

Bulls' injuries too much to overcome

March, 1, 2015
Mar 1
6:22
PM CT
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alsOnce again -- and painfully, at that -- the Chicago Bulls issued an all-too-familiar statement:

MRI on Monday.

This time, it's Jimmy Butler, the Bulls' leading scorer and best wing defender and probably the NBA's most improved player. He ran into a DeAndre Jordan screen in the third quarter, which is pretty much the same as running into a wall, and his left elbow crashed awkwardly into Jordan. Butler was done for the day with what is for now being called a hyperextended elbow. Once again, a lost basketball game was secondary news to an injured Bull.

To recap: Derrick Rose is out at least a month, and could be psychologically ailing longer than that, following his third knee surgery in three years. Taj Gibson is out for who knows how long with a sprained ankle. And now, Butler is out, pending Monday's MRI. That's three of the team's top five players (with Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol being the others).

You're not going to get a cynic's take in this space or read that Bulls executives, by publicly talking about a four- to six-week recovery for Rose, have somehow put Rose on notice ... even though dozens of active players have had the procedure and all talk about it being a four- to six-week injury. The Bulls' issues aren't about management versus players; they're related to good health -- or the lack of it.


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Jimmy Butler to have MRI Monday

March, 1, 2015
Mar 1
3:54
PM CT
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CHICAGO -- Jimmy Butler left Sunday's 96-86 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers after hyperextending his left elbow. He did not return to the game and is scheduled to have an MRI on Monday.

The Butler setback is the latest for a Chicago Bulls squad that has been bitten hard by the injury bug in recent days. Taj Gibson missed Sunday's game after spraining his left ankle in Friday night's win against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Gibson left the United Center on Sunday wearing a walking boot and has already missed time this season because of the same injury.

Derrick Rose is expected to be out for four to six weeks after having a meniscectomy on his right knee on Friday. Rose appears to be in good spirits after starting his rehab on Saturday and was at the United Center early as his rehab process continues.

On top of those injuries, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said that All-Star center Pau Gasol remains under the weather and praised the veteran big man for playing on Sunday despite being sick. Gasol was just 2 for 13 from the field, scoring four points and grabbing 15 rebounds.

"It's tough to lose players to injuries," Bulls center Joakim Noah said. "We just got to -- the games keeps coming. It's disappointing that we lost tonight. Hopefully [Butler's] going to be all right, just get ready for the next one."


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CHICAGO -- DeAndre Jordan had 26 rebounds and Chris Paul scored 28 points Sunday, leading the Los Angeles Clippers to a 96-86 victory over the Chicago Bulls.

Los Angeles trailed 86-85 when Jamal Crawford made a 3-pointer with 8:02 left. The Clippers never trailed the rest of the way. After a scoreless first half, Crawford scored 16 points in the final two quarters.

The Clippers extended their winning streak to five in a row in Chicago, the longest in franchise history. They haven't lost there since Dec. 17, 2008.

Bulls rookie reserve Nikola Mirotic scored a career-high 29 points. He accounted for all but one of his team's 17 points in the fourth quarter. Brooks finished with 14 points and Joakim Noah had 13 points and 11 rebounds.

The Clippers improved to 2-1 on their four-game road trip. The Bulls lost for the third time in their last 10 games.


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Clips 96, Bulls 86: DJ's board meeting

March, 1, 2015
Mar 1
12:42
PM CT
Markazi By Arash Markazi
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Three weeks ago, the Los Angeles Clippers discovered they would be without Blake Griffin for about a month after he was disagnosed with a staph infection in his right elbow. Griffin was immediately sent back to Los Angeles for surgery while the Clippers were in Oklahoma City.

Without Griffin, the Clippers were blown out by the Thunder and suffered their fourth straight loss, dropping to seventh in the West.

Since then, however, the Clippers have won six of eight games, including their 96-86 win over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday. Even more impressive than their record without Griffin, which has helped them move up to the fifth seed in the West, is that the Clippers have beaten playoff teams such as Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Memphis and Chicago in his absence.

In fact, some of their more impressive road wins of the season (Dallas, Memphis and Chicago) have come with Griffin back in Los Angeles. In his absence, the Clippers’ other players have stepped up to the challenge. Chris Paul had 28 points and 12 assists on Sunday, his fourth straight game with at least 19 points and 10 assists. DeAndre Jordan had 26 rebounds and nine points, his eighth straight game with at least 15 rebounds, which is the longest streak in the NBA this season. In fact, Jordan had 17 rebounds in the first half, which was the most rebounds in any half by any player this season.

The Clippers, however, realize they need Griffin back if they’re going to do anything significant this season, and there’s a chance they may get him back as early as next week if the Clippers feel comfortable with the progress he’s made after four weeks.

“We need Blake. Don’t get it twisted: We need him, and we need him bad,” Paul said on Friday. “But what this has done is give everyone else an opportunity to step up a little bit, and I think that will help us when Blake comes back. Everyone will have more confidence, and we’ll really get rolling.”
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Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic threw down a two-handed dunk in the second quarter against the Clippers.

Derrick Rose again starts rehab

February, 28, 2015
Feb 28
2:16
PM CT
[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesOne day after another knee surgery, Derrick Rose is back on the road to rehabilitation.

CHICAGO -- Just one day after having a meniscectomy to repair a torn medial meniscus in his right knee, Derrick Rose was back at the Chicago Bulls' training facility on Saturday beginning his rehab process.

"He's good," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He came in, started his rehab, it's good."

Bulls general manager Gar Forman said Friday the organization expects Rose to be back on the floor within 4-6 weeks. Thibodeau wouldn't divulge exactly what Rose was able to do, but did say the process was moving forward.

"It's just the initial steps," Thibodeau said. "But we're cautiously optimistic, he's in good spirits. He's on it, so it's good."

Thibodeau did acknowledge that Rose's rehab process has already been scheduled with the help of Bulls team doctors and trainers.

"It's mapped out with the medical people," Thibodeau said. "The one thing about Derrick is he's been through a few of them. He'll follow the plan and hopefully everything goes fine."


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Joakim Noah returns to 'point center' role

February, 27, 2015
Feb 27
11:12
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Joakim Noah was back in his comfort zone Friday night.

Without Derrick Rose (knee) or Pau Gasol (illness), and with Taj Gibson going down with an ankle injury after just nine minutes, the remaining Bulls had to pull together and do a little more. For Noah, that meant he was back in a familiar role as a "point center," a role he played extremely well without Rose on the floor over the past two years. With Noah back at the high post, he looked more confident on the floor, as he racked up 11 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in a 96-89 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

"That's what Jo wants to do -- handle the ball," Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler said. "He makes great decisions when he's passing it, and he's aggressive when he gets it. Whenever you have a big man like that, it's hard to guard all five people on the floor."

Noah had much more space on the floor offensively, without Gasol down on the blocks. The pair know they need one another to reach their ultimate goal, but they have not played well together throughout much of this season. Noah thrives in a situation in which he can pass the ball in various sets from the high post.

"That part I think is innate," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said of Noah's passing ability. "He had great vision and decision-making ability. He's got a very unorthodox game in many ways. But he's got great vision, and if a guy's open just a little bit on a cut, he can get it there. So it's a big plus when you have a big guy that can pass like that."

For his part, Noah wasn't biting on how much fun he was having in his old role. He discussed how the Bulls run a read-and-react offense and try to find the open man.

"I enjoy winning," Noah said. "It was fun to win today. We just got to keep improving."

Noah's offensive game has taken a back seat to Gasol's throughout the season. Now that Noah is back to feeling like himself as he continues to shake off the lingering effects of offseason knee surgery, it's going to be interesting to see how his game responds once Gasol and Rose are back on the floor. In the meantime, Noah, like the rest of his teammates, is just hopeful Rose will be back sooner than later.

"It's tough when your best player is out," Noah said. "But I think today was positive news. Derrick's a warrior. He's going to fight as hard as he can to try his best to come back this year. We just got to keep building and keep getting better until he gets back."video

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jimmy Butler
PTS AST STL MIN
20.2 3.3 1.7 38.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 12.1
AssistsD. Rose 5.0
StealsJ. Butler 1.7
BlocksP. Gasol 2.1