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No timetable for a Taj Gibson return

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – It wasn’t easy for Taj Gibson to sit out Sunday’s game against the Nets.

Not when he grew up just a few minutes down the road in Brooklyn.

But the Bulls forward is trying to take the smart approach with yet another left ankle sprain by fighting the temptation to just rush back in there earlier than he should. It’s a fight that’s admittedly not going well.

“[My teammates] know all the injuries I have, and I mostly just play through pain and kind of rush back,’’ Gibson said. “You know it’s serious when your own teammates are telling you to calm down. It’s a bigger picture. It’s more important to see how my guys have my back.’’

For once, Gibson is trying to follow their advice.

In the past, it wasn’t a question. It was more of a just-patch-me-up mentality. With the depth on this year’s team, as well as the fact that Gibson has had ankle problems the last three seasons, his teammates have been doing their best to hold him back.

“I’m looking at the schedule because I want to play,’’ Gibson said. “Even when the team has a day off, I’m still coming in the gym and trying to get back to the right form.

“Everybody sees me working. They know me. They say, ‘Taj, take your time. Keep working at it. We got you. But we need you. We need you at the right time. We don’t want you to rush back.’ ‘’

The game against the Nets was the fourth-straight game Gibson has missed, and coach Tom Thibodeau continued to list him as day-to-day.

He was averaging 12.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game off the bench, but 15.6 points and 6.4 rebounds in five games as a starter.

Gibson has been shooting and doing cardio, but the likelihood that he’ll be ready for the back-to-back games home against Dallas on Tuesday and then in Charlotte on Wednesday was small.