Butler plays through pain in return

December, 14, 2013
12/14/13
1:36
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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MILWAUKEE -- Jimmy Butler had to chuckle a little bit as he sat in front of his locker while his right foot soaked in a blue bucket filled with ice.

"Are you stunned that [your] first night back [coach Tom Thibodeau] put you out there for 36 minutes?" a reporter asked the proud Marquette alum.

"Ahhh nahhh," Butler said. "That's Tom Thibodeau for you. He's always looking to win, and if he feels like I can help, I'm good with that."

After missing the past 11 games because of turf toe, Butler was just happy to be back on the floor. He scored 16 points in his return, but the problem for him is that he got that aching toe squashed late in the game by Milwaukee Bucks swingman O.J. Mayo.

"O.J. stepped on my toe," Butler said. "He stepped on my toe so hard tonight. Oh my gosh. But I felt like I had to stay out there, so I was good."

Butler was hopeful he will be back on the floor against the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night, but he wasn't sure how the toe will respond.

"It's been better," he said. "[Had] better days, but I guess you got to learn to play through your injuries whenever you can. I just got to take care of it, rest it, and be ready for [Saturday]."

His teammates and coaches were happy that he was back. His energy was something the Bulls have been sorely missing.

"I think Jimmy Butler was huge for us tonight," Bulls center Joakim Noah said. "Just having him back, it's big. Somebody who can slash to the basket like that. It puts so much pressure on the defense when you have guys that attack the basket the way he attacks the basket. It creates a lot of easy opportunities for me and for our bigs on the glass."

Butler, who hasn't been able to practice much over the past month, knows that he will have to continue playing through the aches and pains as he gets himself back into a rhythm.

"Just being aggressive," he said of his approach. "Testing my body because we haven't practiced and we won't practice for a while now. So I guess I got to use the court and game time to practice and test my limits on my foot. I felt like it was a little weak out there but just keep going, keep pushing those limits and keep playing hard."

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jimmy Butler
PTS AST STL MIN
20.2 3.2 1.7 38.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 11.8
AssistsD. Rose 5.0
StealsJ. Butler 1.7
BlocksP. Gasol 2.0