Noah and Gibson join Rose on the Bulls’ injured list


Jan 21

When Derrick Rose missed his fourth consecutive game with a toe injury Saturday as the Bulls defeated the Charlotte Bobcats 95-89 and improved to an NBA-best 15-3 overall record, he had plenty of company at the end of the bench.

Joakim Noah was a late scratch due to a sprained ankle. Omer Asik started in his place, snagging a career-high 15 rebounds to go with six points in 38 minutes of action.

Also held out was Taj Gibson, who suffered a high ankle sprain on Friday in Cleveland after stepping on the foot of Cavaliers forward Antawn Jamison. Additionally, John Lucas III was out with left groin strain.

Gibson is currently listed as day-to-day with no timetable for return.

“It’s just sore,” said Gibson on Saturday. “Typical ankle sprain, but it’s just real sore and real painful. I just have to take it slow. I’m lucky nothing was broken or torn. That’s the bright side.

“Hopefully this thing goes away in the next couple days so I can get some feeling back and play,” added Gibson, who plans to spend the next couple days icing the injury.

“It’s disappointing because you want to be there for your team,” said Gibson. “We’re off to a great start and we have a good run going. This is a setback, but it’s better to be healthy later on in the season.”

Without Rose and Lucas, C.J. Watson got the start again and received the bulk of time at point guard. Watson played 31 minutes and finished with 11 points and nine assists.

In 16 minutes off the bench, veteran Mike James recorded 10 assists to go with nine points.

“Injuries are part of the game,” said Thibodeau. “You deal with them. There is a reason [teams] carry 13 or 14 players. If one guy goes down, the next guy has to step up and be ready. I’ve said it all along—we feel very good about or depth, and we feel we have more than enough to win with.”

As for Rose, who remains day-to-day, Thibodeau says he continues to improve.

“It keeps getting better,” Thibodeau said of Rose’s toe. “We’re encouraged by that. All the swelling is gone. Only Derrick knows how he feels. When he says he can go, he’ll go.”

“For us, it doesn’t change how we play regardless of who is in or who is out,” added Thibodeau. “We’re going to defend, rebound, try to keep our turnovers down, [play] inside-out, and share the ball. That’s what we strive to do each and every day.”

With Rose’s return date still an uncertainty, Thibodeau praised Watson for the job he has done. Prior to Saturday, Watson had averaged 19 points, six assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game in the two games he had started this season.

“C.J. is really good, he’s a terrific player,” said Thibodeau. “He’s started a number of games in the league and he was the one guy who was certainly deserving of more minutes. He has a tough job playing behind Derrick. He’s got great character and he’s shown what he’s capable of doing. Every time we’ve given him extended minutes, he’s played at a very high level. He can shoot, run the team, and he plays very good defense. He’s high energy and a great leader.”

Audio—Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau meets the media prior to his team’s game against the Charlotte Bobcats (01.21.2012):

Audio—Bulls forward Taj Gibson talks about his high ankle sprain suffered Friday in Cleveland (01.21.2012):

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