Leg injury leaves Mirotic's status in doubt for Bulls
CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago Bulls fought through injuries all year, and they could be down another important player when their first-round playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks resumes.
Forward Nikola Mirotic's status for Game 3 is in doubt because of an injured left leg.
Mirotic was hurt in a scramble for a loose ball with the Bucks' Zaza Pachulia on Monday, and a day later he had his knee and thigh wrapped and was walking with a noticeable limp.
Coach Tom Thibodeau would not put a timetable on his return, although he did not rule Mirotic out for Thursday's game at Milwaukee with the Bulls leading the series 2-0.
''We'll see,'' he said. ''It's going to be a few days. We want to see how he responds to treatment and then we'll go from there.''
The team called Mirotic's injury a strained left quadriceps, although Thibodeau said it was more to the knee. Either way, the odds of him playing Thursday did not look good.
''I don't want to say because I don't know,'' Thibodeau said. ''I don't think any of us know. We'll see how he responds to the treatment.''
Pachulia landed on Mirotic's leg in a scramble for a loose ball with just under three minutes left in the game Monday, setting off a heated exchange. Both players called for technical fouls.
That scrum came about a minute after Pachulia picked up a technical for elbowing Mirotic in the head. The second technical resulted in his ejection.
Losing Mirotic would be another blow for a team that dealt with its share of injuries on the way to 50 wins and the third seed in the Eastern Conference. He was one of two Bulls to appear in all 82 games and emerged as one of the league's top rookies.
The Serbian forward who came to the NBA from the Spanish league was particularly good down the regular-season stretch and late in games. He averaged 20.8 points in March and led the NBA in fourth-quarter scoring for the month, with LeBron James and Russell Westbrook ranking second and third.
Tempers flared Monday long before Mirotic and Pachulia went at it.
There was also a heated exchange in the second quarter after Milwaukee's John Henson knocked down and stood over Chicago's Aaron Brooks. They exchanged words. Joakim Noah came in, and Jimmy Butler and O.J. Mayo had words.
It all added up to a foul for Brooks and technicals for Henson, Mayo, Noah and Butler, and the series took a chippy turn.
''This is the playoffs,'' Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. ''It's gonna be physical. Both teams are competing to win. There's nothing more, nothing less.''