Bulls’ Marco Belinelli sits out in Denver with twisted ankle
BY NEIL HAYES firstname.lastname@example.org February 8, 2013 12:13AM
Marco Belinelli, Sam Young
Bulls at JAZZ
The facts: 9:30, CSN/ESPN, 1000-AM.
Updated: March 10, 2013 6:41AM
DENVER — Add Marco Belinelli to the list of the walking wounded after he sat out Thursday night’s game against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center with a twisted ankle.
Belinelli twisted his ankle Monday night during the Bulls’ loss to the Indiana Pacers. Although he returned in that game and finished with a game-high 24 points, he did very little in practice Wednesday and even less in Thursday’s shootaround, coach Tom Thibodeau said.
Joakim Noah played against the Nuggets after missing three games with plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
‘‘I’ll be all right,’’ Noah said.
That was good news for the Bulls against the Nuggets, one of the top rebounding teams in the league and the winners of seven straight entering Thursday.
‘‘Rebounding is such a big component,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘They’re so quick to the board, so it requires a multiple-effort mentality. You can never relax. We’re going to have to finish our defense, keep the ball out of the paint, challenge shots, rebound. But then we have to execute offensively.’’
Forward Taj Gibson played 48, 45 and 44 minutes during the last three games with Noah on the bench. The 6-9 forward has averaged 16 points and 11.8 rebounds in five starts and will continue to play a major role moving forward.
‘‘We need Taj every night, and we have to be ready for the speed and intensity of the game,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘Taj has been playing at a high level. He has the ability to play the four and the five, so we need him to play well.’’
Belinelli’s absence coupled with Kirk Hinrich not making the trip because of an elbow injury could mean more playing time for Jimmy Butler, Marquis Teague and Daequan Cook.
Butler is averaging 14.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.45 steals and is shooting .496 from the field and .909 from the free-throw line in his last 11 games.
Respect for Karl
George Karl is the seventh winningest NBA coach after leading teams to the postseason 21 times in his 25-year head-coaching career.
The Nuggets coach spent several minutes talking to Thibodeau before the Bulls’ shootaround Thursday morning.
‘‘He’s one of the great coaches in this league,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘To do it the way he’s done it for all these years, it tells you how good he is, and he always finds a way, no matter what team he has — whether it was in Seattle, Milwaukee, here — it’s always the same. His teams play hard, they’re going to play unselfishly, he has his own style of play, and I just love the way he is as a guy, too. What you see is what you get. He’s true to himself. He’s a great teacher, and to have the success that he has had throughout his career, that says everything.’’
Andre the giant asset
The Bulls know all about veteran guard Andre Iguodala from the battles they had with the Philadelphia 76ers last season. He’s averaging 13.5 points and 6.9 rebounds for the Nuggets.
‘‘You could put Iguodala in any system,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘He’s a good player. He played extremely well in Philadelphia. He’s playing extremely well here. The guy was on the All-Star team last year. He’s been one of the best players in the league for a long time now.’’