Bulls center Nazr Mohammed spent the last two years playing for Oklahoma City. So by the time he met with reporters following Friday's practice, he'd already reached out to injured former teammate Russell Westbrook.
Word arrived Friday morning that Westbrook will have surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his knee. He's out for an indefinite period, but could miss the rest of the playoffs.
The injury created some controversy because Westbrook appeared to be injured on a play in which he ran toward the bench to call time out, but Houston guard Patrick Beverley ran by him to try to steal the ball and collided with Westbrook's knee.
Westbrook, Derrick Rose's summer workout partner, finished Wednesday's game, but reacted angrily when the collision with Beverley occurred.
"As a friend of Russ, it's a disappointing to see him get hurt on something like that," Mohammed said. "When I take myself out of the equation as a friend, it's a basketball play. Patrick Beverley didn't do it to hurt him, at least I don't think so. From what I've heard about the guy, he plays hard all the time. Some guys do the fake time out. I don't think Russ was going to do the fake time out on that one. It's messed up for both of them."
Beverley is a Chicago native who attended Marshall High School. He left Arkansas after his sophomore year in 2008, but didn't make his NBA debut until last January with the Rockets. He started Game 2 at Oklahoma City and has averaged 34 minutes in the Thunder series, with Jeremy Lin nursing an injury.
"I didn't see it. I hate to see a guy like that get hurt," coach Tom Thibodeau said of Westbrook. "He's been an extremely durable player. He's a great kid and a great player, so I hate to see it."
The Bulls barely survived their poor ending in Game 2. After Marco Belinelli's reverse lay in put them ahead 77-62 with 5:47 remaining, the Bulls missed 6 shots and had 5 turnovers before finally hitting 2 free throws in the final 11 seconds.
"They got to some loose balls. I thought we had opportunities where we could push the ball up and we chose not to," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "Everything's a little more intense at the end. Also, it's a make-or-miss league. Come off a pick-and-roll roll, hit Luol wide open in the corner -- great shot, in and out (with 1:45 left).
"As long as they're the shots we want, that's what you're looking at. I don't sit there and say, 'Because he missed, it's a bad shot. It's a wide-open shot that he missed. That's a good shot and it's his shot. I'll take Luol Deng, open corner 3 all day. He's going to make 7 or 8 out of 10 of those.
During Derrick Rose's post-practice workout Friday, he threw up 3-point bank shots (and didn't miss), shot 3-pointers from the extreme corner of the court, and practiced one-handed free throws. … Richard Hamilton didn't play Thursday for the second game in a row. Rookie Marquis Teague, though, made his playoff debut with seven seconds of defense. … The last 13 Bulls playoff series that were tied 1-1 were eventually won by the Game 3 winner. The last exception to that rule was the 1989 Eastern Conference finals against Detroit, when the Bulls led 2-1 and lost the next three games.