The state of the Bulls could be summarized in part Sunday by a couple of accessories — two stationary bikes that sat next to the practice court at the Berto Center.
One was for Joakim Noah, who is trying to play through plantar fasciitis. Another was for Kirk Hinrich, sidelined by a sore right elbow. Marco Belinelli also skipped practice to rest a sprained ankle.
Noah and Belinelli are expected to play Monday against San Antonio, the Bulls' first home game in two weeks and last before the all-star break. Hinrich is out, according to Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.
After doing some stationary shooting after practice, Noah was asked if he'd consider skipping next week's NBA All-Star Game in Houston. Noah was chosen as an Eastern Conference reserve for the first time.
“How important is it? It's pretty important,” Noah said, before second-guessing his assessment. “It's not that important, but it's something that I want to do. But I also have to do what's right for the team. There's obviously a bigger picture than the all-star game. We'll see.”
Noah and Luol Deng are the Bulls' all-star representatives. Last year, Deng made it for the first time, but he played just six minutes in the game. That was with Thibodeau coaching the East squad. This time, it will be Miami's Eric Spoelstra doling out the all-star minutes.
“You've got to live in the moment,” Noah added. “Right now, that's not really what I'm thinking about. I'm more worried about our next game. San Antonio is really important. So sticking to one game at a time and once it comes, we'll see.”
Noah and the Bulls' trainers have some delicate choices to make, trying to keep his foot pain under control while still helping the team. Noah missed nearly a month with the same issue during the 2009-10 season.
Thibodeau was asked about Noah's all-star participation Sunday, but stuck to the tunnel vision theme.
“I'll worry about that when he gets there,” Thibodeau said. “I just want him to take care of himself, be ready for San Antonio. It's a valid question. We'll see how he is after these next two games.”
The Bulls finished a six-game road trip with a 3-3 record and now have two games remaining before the all-star break. After San Antonio, which owned the NBA's best record Sunday morning, the Bulls visit snowy Boston on Wednesday.
“There are a lot of challenges throughout the entire trip, from different guys being out,” Thibodeau said. “In five of the six games, I thought we played well enough to win and obviously, we weren't pleased with the way we played in Denver (a 32-point loss), but you have to move on. Looking back does us no good. We want to be focused on San Antonio.”
Thibodeau said Hinrich, who's missed five games, is feeling better, but stuck to running and bike-riding on Sunday.
Belinelli skipped practice mostly because it was a chance to give him an extra day of rest. He turned the ankle last Monday against Indiana, then returned to score a season-high 24 points. He sat out the Denver game, then played in Friday's win at Utah.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.