Miami Heat v Chicago Bulls

Jimmy Butler misses practice, needs MRI

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Jimmy Butler – after suffering right toe injury in the third quarter of the Bulls’ win over the Bobcats on Monday, returning in the fourth quarter and then leaving again – pledged to be ready for Chicago’s next game. Via Mark Strotman of CSN Chicago:

“I hurt it. I don’t really know how. But it’s nothing major. I’ll be back. I’ve just got to ice it, rest it, all that stuff,” said Butler, who added that he’s “going to be good to go” for the Bulls’ upcoming “Circus Trip,” which begins Thursday in Denver. “I know what play it happened on. I just pushed off on it, I guess the wrong way, and it didn’t feel too good at all.”

It’s still possible Butler plays against the Nuggets, but he’s no longer cruising in that direction. Via Aggrey Sam of CSN Chicago:

“He didn’t do anything [at practice],” Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He’s going to have an MRI this afternoon.”

“I don’t know [about Butler’s availability],” he continued the coach, who noted that initial X-rays on Butler’s toe were negative. “I want to see what they [the Bulls’ medical staff] have to say after the MRI, so we’ll know more [Tuesday] afternoon.

Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $80,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Wednesday night’s games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $9,000. Starts at 7pm ET on Wednesday. Here’s the link.

If Butler must miss time, Kirk Hinrich or Mike Dunleavy could start in his place at shooting guard.

Dunleavy is having a nice season so far, making 12-of-22 3-pointers. His size makes him more a traditional choice.

Hinrich and Derrick Rose might have a budding chemistry, though they haven’t been effective overall while playing together this season. Maybe Thibodeau wants to give those two a chance to develop chemistry.

If there’s a tiebreaker, it could be the Nuggets’ backcourt. Ty Lawson and Randy Foye are undersized and speedy, perhaps making Hinrich the preferred choice.

Watch it again: Epic dunk contest duel between Zach LaVine, Aaron Gordon

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TORONTO — I am always hesitant to say a player/team/situation is one of the best of ever because the history of the NBA is filled with greats. We tend to overstate how good something current can be.  That said…

That was one of the best dunk contests ever.

Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon put on a show for the ages. Gordon had the best dunks of the night (in my opinion), but LaVine is consistently amazing, every dunk he does is flat out ridiculous.

Officially, LaVine won. In reality, we all won. Enjoy watching it one more time.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.