Just one day after it seemed the Chicago Bulls might finally be getting healthy, they head to Minneapolis without Joakim Noah and possibly without Daequan Cook, who played important minutes in last night’s win over the Indiana Pacers before suffering a thigh bruise that forced him to leave the game.
Noah has seen his plantar fasciitis flare up again. He missed a few games in January and early February because of it, but came back mostly himself. However, plantar fasciitis is one of those injuries that never really goes away, and it’s hard to tell how long he’ll be out. Having Taj Gibson back helps, as does Nazr Mohammed’s improbable competence of late, but Noah has been the team’s MVP this year without Derrick Rose and losing him for any amount of time hurts.
Cook has struggled mightily since joining the Bulls. His calling card is his shooting — he’s a former three-point contest champion — but he’s shooting all of 28 percent this season, and while he had his best game last night, he shot all of 4/12. But with Rip Hamilton possibly dead, for all we know, he does provide an extra body and defenses still seem to respect him as a shooter, for some reason.
The good news is this: the Minnesota Timberwolves are not very good this season, as they’ve had even worse injury luck than the Bulls. Kevin Love has missed virtually the entire season, Ricky Rubio missed the first two months or so after tearing his ACL last year, etc. Virtually every major player of theirs has missed at least a few games.
So, after a gutsy win over the Pacers, the Bulls will likely win tonight in Minnesota. Just don’t expect it to be pretty.