With their former MVP sidelined at least a month and a key reserve day to day, the Chicago Bulls are now prepared to potentially be minus their leading scorer for the immediate future.
Looking to end their home struggles versus Washington, the Bulls could be without All-Star Jimmy Butler on Tuesday night as they try to extend the Wizards' season-high road skid to eight games.
Two days after Derrick Rose underwent knee surgery that will keep him out 4-6 weeks and backup Taj Gibson sprained his ankle later that evening in a seven-point win over Minnesota, Butler hyperextended his left elbow in Sunday's 96-86 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
"It's tough to lose players to injuries," said center Joakim Noah, who had 13 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. "Nobody feels sorry for us. We'll be all right. Just come ready to work."
That's about all the Bulls (37-23) can do as they await word on the severity of the injury to Butler (20.2 points per game).
"I think the most important thing with our team is whenever something happens here, we are together and we really try to find a way to get out of this situation," rookie Nikola Mirotic told the Bulls' official website after he scored a season-high 29 points Sunday.
Though averaging 7.6 points and 17.3 minutes, Mirotic could be someone coach Tom Thibodeau continues to rely on after he went 11 of 23 from the field and pulled down nine boards.
Chicago, however, must improve from shooting a season-low 31.0 percent while being held to fewer than 90 points for the third time in four games.
Including last postseason, the Bulls have averaged 89.6 points and shot 41.0 percent during a five-game home skid versus Washington (34-26). Rose scored 32 and Mirotic added 12 in a 105-99 home loss to the Wizards on Jan. 14.
Pau Gasol, who continues to deal with an illness that forced him to miss Friday's game with Minnesota, had 15 boards but four points on a season-worst 2-of-13 shooting Sunday. The NBA leader with 38 double-doubles, Gasol had 13 points and eight rebounds in that home defeat to the Wizards, marking the second time in three games in the season series he's failed to record at least 10 each.
Washington's Paul Pierce scored a team-high 22 at the United Center in January.
The veteran returned from a two-game absence with a bruised knee to score 14 and help Washington snap a season-high six-game skid with Saturday's 99-95 win over Detroit. John Wall scored 22, Nene 21 and Bradley Beal added eight but six rebounds, five assists and three steals in 32 minutes after missing eight straight with a leg injury.
Though the Wizards shot 47.4 percent after being held to a season-low 32.3 percent during Friday's 89-81 loss at Philadelphia, they needed to rally from blowing a 21-point lead.
''It's still great to get the win, but we have to do a better job of keeping our leads,'' said Wall, who scored 21 at Chicago in January.
Washington can now focus on ending its longest road slide since dropping the final eight such contests in 2012-13.
The Wizards have averaged 88.7 points and shot 40.9 percent in the last seven on the road. Prior to that terrible shooting night in Philadelphia, they scored their fewest points of the season in Wednesday's 97-77 loss at Minnesota.
"We still got a lot of things to figure out," Beal said.