Pau Gasol questionable for Game 4 with hamstring injury


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.

From Steve Aschburner of

“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.

Kyrie Irving reveals he’s been playing on a bad foot since Round One


CHICAGO — The hits keep coming for the Cavaliers. Following their Game 3 loss to the Bulls at the United Center (sealed on a miracle buzzer-beater from Derrick Rose), head coach David Blatt revealed yet another setback for one of his most important players.

Kyrie Irving has been playing with a sore foot apparently since Game 2 of the Cavs’ first-round sweep of the Celtics. On Friday night, he shot 3-for-13 from the field for 11 points and posted a box score line that LeBron James told him earlier this year that he could in no uncertain terms ever record: a no-assist game.

“Kyrie has been playing hurt,” Blatt said after the game. “He has been giving us all he has and will continue to do that. He had two great games and today was just a little less successful. He has a sore foot and is playing through it.”

The injury certainly didn’t hamper Irving in the first two games of the series: he scored 30 points in Game 1 and 21 points in Game 2, looking as explosive as ever driving to the basket.

“Probably in Game 2 of the Boston series,” Irving said when asked when he first suffered the injury. “I have just been trying to get treatment since then. I just have to stay ready to play. There are no excuses and I have to play through it. Coach was trying to protect me with what he said. Tonight, I am not hanging my head nor using a bad foot as an excuse.”

At the podium next to him, LeBron James deflected criticism from his teammate in no uncertain terms.

“He gave us 40 minutes on one foot,” James said. “Kyrie could have had 40 assists and if D-Rose makes that shot, we still lose. I had seven turnovers.”

Irving’s status for Sunday’s Game 4 is yet to be determined, but losing him would be a death knell for a Cavs team that’s already playing shorthanded. With Kevin Love out for the year with a separated shoulder, even more pressure has fallen on James and Irving to carry the Cavs’ shaky supporting cast. Even if Irving plays, he’s going to be limited in what he can do, and the Cavs cannot afford any more health setbacks.

“I am staying out there for my brothers,” Irving said. “I can be a decoy, set screens and do whatever I can to help us win. I just have to get treatment and come out and play.”

Derrick Rose banks home three at the buzzer to give Bulls Game 3 win over Cavaliers


The Cavaliers and the Bulls seem to be as evenly-matched as possible in their playoff matchup, and it’s going to take incredible, somewhat miraculous shots like these to propel one team to get past the other as we get deeper into this second-round series.

Derrick Rose found a way to bank home a three-point shot at the Game 3 buzzer, and lifted his Bulls to a 99-96 victory which gave Chicago a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Report: Bulls’ Jimmy Butler wins Most Improved Player


Jimmy Butler reportedly rejected a four-year, $40 million contract extension before the season.

It was the right move.

The Bulls guard has improved immensely, and he should get a max contract this summer.

First, he’ll get another reward for his progress.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Butler has supplanted Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah as Chicago’s best player. There was one a school of thought Butler needed to play off Rose to be effective, but the shooting guard has put that to rest this season. Butler is filling a bigger role offensively and got even more efficiently in the process – hard feats to pull off in tandem. Plus, he has remained a lockdown defender.

There are only two knocks in Butler’s Most Improved Player credentials:

1. He was underrated last season, so – if we all agree on his value this season – his improvement has been overrated.

2. Butler missed 17 games due to injury this year, which limits the amount of production he supplied Chicago over his production last year.

But those are small flaws in an otherwise impressive résumé. This is well-deserved.

Report: Not even a championship would change Bulls management’s desire to dump Tom Thibodeau


Bulls management reportedly “can’t wait to rid itself” of Tom Thibodeau.

So, he’s coaching for his job during these playoffs?

Maybe not.

Adrian Wojnarowski on Fox Sports 1:

If it was up to management, there’s no amount of winning here that would bring Tom Thibodeau back. And listen, this is difficult on Thibodeau, too. And people around him have never seen him so down this year, so frustrated with just the process of just interacting with the organization every day.

Jerry Reinsdorf, the Bulls owner, though – this has been a culture in Chicago from Jerry Krause and Phil Jackson to Vinny Del Negro and John Paxson in the past.

If the team keeps winning and gets to the Finals, and public sentiment keeps going toward Tom Thibodeau, ownership could have pause in this.

But the management team wants a new coach next year.

The problems between Chicago’s front office – led by executive vice president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman – and Thibodeau are well-documented. It seems both sides are looking ahead, the Bulls possibly to Fred Hoiberg and Thibodeau possibly to the Magic (who seem interested).

But I don’t think a breakup is inevitable – especially if the Bulls, who lead the Cavaliers 1-0 in their second-round series, keep winning.

If Thibodeau sees Chicago’s veterans, including Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose, play well deep into the playoffs, maybe he becomes more sympathetic to resting players during the regular season. If management sees Thibodeau’s defense shut down LeBron James and other stars along a deep playoff run, maybe it will re-appreciate Thibodeau’s great coaching.

And that’s just supposing this up to management. As Wojnarowski said, Reinsdorf could step in – and he’s more likely to do so if the Bulls win. Ditto Chicago’s players, who could make their opinions heard directly or through ownership.

Plus, Thibodeau has two years remaining on his contract. Even if management wants to ditch him, the Bulls might play hardball for compensation, which could lead to Thibodeau’s return. At minimum, it’s a complicating factor.

Winning would be, too.

Winning cures nearly all ills. At this very moment, Bulls management might not think it’d be enough to salvage this relationship, but I don’t think the involved parties can truly know the emotional effects of winning – whether it’s a champion or the Eastern Conference or even just this series against Cleveland – until they go through it. It’s one thing to imagine the effects. It’s another to, day to day, experience the euphoria of accomplishing the team-wide goal.

Thibodeau seems to be playing from behind if he’s trying to prove why the Bulls should retain him. Winning would only help, though it’s unclear whether that’d be enough.