Taj Gibson promised to play in Thursday's Game 6 at Philadelphia, despite suffering a sprained right ankle in the third quarter of Tuesday's win.
Gibson turned his ankle while trying to contest a layup by Sixers center Lavoy Allen. He went to the floor in obvious pain as everyone in the United Center wondered what else could go wrong for the Bulls.
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They already lost Joakim Noah with a sprained ankle in Game 3. Derrick Rose, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in Game 1, watched Tuesday's action from a luxury suite.
"I'll be fine," Gibson said in the locker room. "We've got a great training staff. Knowing myself, I'm going to play. I'm not going to sit out. I don't care about what anybody says, I'm going to play."
After limping into the locker room, Gibson tried to keep moving while he got the ankle retaped and changed shoes. He returned to the floor in the fourth quarter and finished the game.
Brand vouches for Taj:
There could be more to the story when it comes to Taj Gibson's Game 6 availability. He was involved in a battle for a loose ball with Sixers forward Elton Brand, which led to speculation about whether Gibson could be suspended for anything that happened in the scrum.
Brand says no.
"It was kind of like an elbow to the face," Brand said. "But I don't think he should be suspended. Nothing brutal. It was like an elbow, kind of push-off. It wasn't like a blatant elbow. Hopefully he doesn't get suspended for that. It wasn't malicious."
Bulls start slow without Jo:
With Joakim Noah sidelined by a sprained left ankle, Omer Asik started at center for the Bulls for the second straight game.
Both times Asik started, the Bulls got off to slow starts. They scored 15 points in the first quarter of Sunday's Game 4. Back at the United Center on Tuesday, they made it to 17 points only when Luol Deng drained a 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds left in the opening quarter.
Sixers coach Doug Collins brought some added praise for Noah before the contest.
"When he was starting out there with (Derrick) Rose, I always considered him their second-best playmaker, and they miss that," Collins said. "When Omer is in the game, you can do a few things defensively to help a little bit more, simply because he's not going to look to make that play as much as Joakim does."
Low points for season:
When Philadelphia scored just 26 points in the first half on Tuesday, it was the fewest points scored before halftime by a Bulls opponent this season. Orlando scored 26 in the second half on March 19.
As far as the playoffs, the franchise record for fewest points allowed in a half was 23 by Utah (second half) during the 1998 Finals. That was the night the Bulls won Game 3 at the United Center 96-54.
It was the fewest points scored in the first half by Philadelphia in franchise playoff history.
Stern mentions injuries:
NBA Commissioner David Stern admitted Tuesday that the seeming rash of injuries may be partially related to the condensed lockout schedule.
"I think there's some part of it that may be related to (the schedule)," Stern said on the Jim Rome show. "Some part of it is luck. Some part of it is lack of preparedness by our players before the season began. It's a combination of things.
"We've done all the numbers. We think there are actually about the same number of injuries. When Derrick Rose went down with his ACL everyone said it's the compressed schedule. Usually you have five of those a year, this year we had two before the playoffs and now we have two in the playoffs, so now we have four."
The last time Philadelphia won a playoff series was 2003, when it beat New Orleans 4-2 in the first round. The Sixers have lost five straight playoff series since then. ... Philadelphia has lost two playoff series after leading 3-1, against Boston in the '68 and '81 East finals.