Taj Gibson called for flagrant on LeBron James after all
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org March 31, 2013 10:28PM
Bulls forward Luol Deng had 28 points and nine rebounds Sunday against the Pistons. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: May 2, 2013 6:36AM
The NBA office upgraded Taj Gibson’s hard foul Wednesday on LeBron James from a shooting foul to a flagrant foul on Sunday — and you didn’t even see James’ lips move.
James’ complaints may or may not have affected the league’s decision to change the call on Gibson’s foul in the fourth quarter of the Bulls’ victory over the Heat that snapped Miami’s 27-game winning streak. But, either way, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau disagreed with the call.
‘‘I guess we have to call the league and get a clarification,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘I didn’t see it that way. I still don’t have a good understanding of what a flagrant foul is. By rule, it’s unnecessary, excessive. I thought I got some clarity last year. But apparently I didn’t.’’
Did James’ complaints about the call carry any extra weight?
‘‘I guess we have to talk to the league to find out,’’ Thibodeau said.
Joakim Noah (foot), Marco Belinelli (abdominal strain), Richard Hamilton (back) and Derrick Rose (knee) didn’t play Sunday against the Pistons. But they’re all making progress. Belinelli and Noah are day-to-day, Thibodeau said.
Noah missed his fifth consecutive game. He previously missed three games with plantar fasciitis.
With Nazr Mohammed playing better in Noah’s place, the Bulls might be able to let his injury heal instead of having him try to play through it.
‘‘The big thing is, you don’t want [Noah] to come back until he’s healthy,’’ Thibodeau said.
‘‘The fact that Nazr’s playing well and, more important, the team is playing well . . . whoever’s called upon, be ready, get the job done. Nazr’s done a terrific job for us.’’
It was a bittersweet homecoming for Chicagoans Will Bynum and Corey Maggette of the Pistons. Bynum missed the game with a sprained wrist. Maggette, in his 13th season, is glued to the bench — he has not played since Dec. 15.
‘‘It’s extremely tough; you always want to play in your hometown, especially against the Bulls with me growing up here,’’ said Bynum, an all-stater at Crane, just a few blocks from the United Center.
Bynum still is trying to establish himself as a regular in his fifth NBA season.
He’s averaging 9.3 points and 3.4 rebounds in 18 minutes but has had games of 31 and 25 points off the bench.
‘‘I feel like I’m one of the most underrated players in the NBA, so I still feel like I have a lot to prove,’’ Bynum said.
‘‘I’m constantly working to get better every day.’’