The last thing the Bulls need with six games left in the regular season is to roll back downhill with their health concerns, but that appears to have happened.
Joakim Noah returned to the court Sunday against Detroit after missing eight games to rest chronic plantar fasciitis in his feet. Noah played well (13 points, 7 rebounds in 21 minutes), but his feet didn’t react well Monday morning, according to coach Tom Thibodeau.
“Jo had a little bit of a setback. We’ll see. We’ll see where he is,” Thibodeau said after practice at the Berto Center.
There’s no telling if or when Noah might be back to normal this season. It seems unlikely he’ll play Tuesday when the Bulls host Toronto.
While most injuries slowly improve, plantar fasciitis patients often talk about how the ailment is so unpredictable. Thibodeau said Noah felt good after Sunday’s game.
“You never really know with that type of injury,” Thibodeau said. “We don’t want anyone to play who is injured. I think at this time of the year, there’s a lot of guys that are hurting that will play, but if a guy is injured, you don’t want him out there.”
The rest of the injury report was more promising. Marco Belinelli came back Sunday after missing seven games with an abdominal strain and is on track to keep playing. Thibodeau said Taj Gibson (sprained left knee) is feeling better and should play later this week. Richard Hamilton was active during and after practice, but he hasn’t played since Feb. 26 (sore back).
Luol Deng sat out Sunday’s loss with a sore hip. Thibodeau said Deng was doing better Monday, but it’s not clear when he’ll play again. That one’s not expected to be a long-term issue. Derrick Rose, meanwhile, remains in limbo — maybe he’ll return soon, maybe not.
Belinelli went scoreless in 20 minutes against the Pistons. He missed 2 shots and 2 free throws, but wants to stay on the floor to find his rhythm.
“I didn’t play well,” Belinelli said. “So I just need to go on the court, play, run, try to have the ball in my hands and be aggressive like before.
“I can still feel (the injury) a little bit, especially in the morning. But I think we’ve got like five, six more games in the season. We’ve got to play, so I think I’m going to play with a little bit of pain, but that’s part of the game.”
Thibodeau often says the No. 1 goal is to be healthy and playing well heading into the playoffs. Well, the Bulls have clinched a playoff spot and appear headed for a first-round matchup with Brooklyn, but the healthy part remains elusive.
“The good part is, prior to last night, the previous eight games, I thought that was our best stretch of basketball,” Thibodeau said. “Obviously we were very disappointed with the way we played (Sunday) night. But the previous eight games, we played very good basketball. So we’re more than capable and we’ve got to get it right.”
Those previous eight games included wins over Indiana, Miami — ending the Heat’s 27-game win streak — a short-handed victory at Brooklyn and tough road losses against Dallas and Washington, two teams playing well now.
“We’re just worried about our improvement, correcting things, understanding why we won or lost,” Thibodeau added. “Try to make the necessary corrections, try to get ready for he next opponent. I think if you focus that way, when you ultimately get there, that will prepare you the best (for the playoffs).”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.