The Bulls pulled off an incredible Game 3 victory over the Cavaliers, thanks to Derrick Rose banking home a three-pointer at the buzzer that put Chicago up 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
Perhaps more remarkable was that they were able to do it with a very limited contribution from Pau Gasol.
Gasol finished with six points, four rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots, but left the game five minutes into the third quarter with a hamstring injury, and did not return. He’s set for an MRI on Saturday, and his status remains questionable for Sunday’s critical Game 4 contest.
“I have to do some tests, see how bad or good it is and then proceed from there,” Gasol said. “I’m just hoping that it’s not a bad tear or anything like that. Hamstrings are tricky and dangerous. Just hoping for the best and trying to stay positive.
“Hopefully I’ll get up [Saturday] with not much soreness and I’ll go to the hospital and do whatever it is I have to do to find out what I have.”
“Early in the first quarter, it started to tighten up,” Gasol said. “It really bothered me. I thought it was going to loosen up and I was going to be able to push through it. The more I pushed through it, the worse it got.”
Losing Gasol would be damaging, but the Bulls are a deep squad that may be able to survive his absence.
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Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic can provide at least some of what Gasol brings; they combined for 21 points and 17 rebounds in Game 3, while each playing around 22 minutes off the bench.
LeBron James: Joakim Noah’s trash talk ‘got very disrespectful’
Early in the third quarter of the Bulls’ Game 3 win over the Cavaliers, LeBron James drove and threw down a thunderous dunk over Joakim Noah, and appeared to have some words for him immediately following the spectacular play.
Noah responded, of course, and the two each received a technical foul for their actions.
“As a competitor, I love his emotion,” James said. “But I think the words that he used to me were just a little bit, you know, a little bit too far. I’m a father with three kids, and it got very disrespectful.
“I’m OK with competing against Jo. I love the competitive nature in him. But we should leave it there. The disrespectful words that he said to me were uncalled for.”
Noah didn’t see it the same way.
“Disrespectful? I got mad respect for LeBron,” he said postgame, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “We’re just two players trying to win a game. That’s all.”
If I’m Noah, and I know that I can get LeBron thinking about what I’m saying during the game, I crank the trash talk up to 11 in Game 4. Any distraction might help, and in a series that might end up being decided by insane plays at the buzzer, every advantage counts.