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Bulls’ Omer Asik shelved after playing with broken leg in Game 4

Rookie center Omer Asik puts body LeBrJames Game 3 Eastern Conference finals. | Wilfredo Lee~AP

Rookie center Omer Asik puts a body on LeBron James in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals. | Wilfredo Lee~AP

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Updated: July 3, 2011 1:09PM

In a measure of how important the playoffs are, Omer Asik tried to play in Game 4 but came out after playing less than two minutes. It’s no wonder. The rookie center suffered a fractured left fibula in
Game 3, the Bulls announced Wednesday. Asik will not play again this spring.

“Omer’s out. It’s a lower-leg injury,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He’s going to need some time to recover.’’

Exactly why Asik was cleared to play with a fractured left fibula wasn’t explained.

“He really tried to play,’’ forward Luol Deng said. “We could all tell before the game that he was hurt pretty bad. But he wants it just as bad as everyone. He tried to go out there, but he really couldn’t.’’

The 7-foot Asik averaged one point and 2.1 rebounds in 15 playoff appearances. But he has a huge upside.

“I always say Omer is ­going to be great,’’ Deng said, “a good player in this league for years to come. He’s already doing the little things that a lot of rookies don’t get until later in their career.’’

Cooking at home

The Bulls like the idea of returning to the United Center, where they are 42-7 this season — including a 6-2 playoff record after they went 36-5 during the regular season.

But they look at the United Center as an opportunity to improve their situation, not a cure.

“We’ve had a great crowd all year,’’ Thibodeau said. “They give us great support. But we have to play well. We have to give them something to cheer about.’’

One step at a time

NBA teams that have fallen behind 3-1 in conference finals have lost 20 straight ­series since the Boston Celtics rallied to beat the Philadelphia 76ers in 1981.

But the Bulls aren’t ­looking at gloomy statistics. They’re thinking about protecting home court. Then they’ll worry about finding a way to win Game 6 in Miami.

“That’s the difference,’’ Deng said. “They’ve taken care of their home court. We didn’t. When you look at 3-1, it looks bad being down like that. But we gave one away at home, and we couldn’t get one over there. We have to take care of home court and try to go back down there and win one.’’

Quote a Bull

Deng on the Bulls remaining upbeat: “We have to stay positive. That’s the position we’re in. We’re not happy being down 3-1. But this is what it is. We have no choice.’’

◆ Thibodeau on the flagrant-foul call against Carlos Boozer that helped Miami, which trailed 77-74, take a 78-77 lead: “I thought it was a good, hard playoff foul. But I’m probably the wrong guy to ask about those things. That’s part of it; it’s not a big deal. We move on.’’

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