BY JOE COWLEY
ORLANDO, Fla. — Power forward Taj Gibson’s perfect-attendance record finally was ruined Wednesday.
Gibson had played in each of the Bulls’ first 59 regular-season games, but an injured right hamstring suffered Tuesday against the Heat forced him out of that game and caused him to miss the game against the Magic.
‘‘We’ll see what happens,’’ Gibson said when asked about a timetable for a return. ‘‘I hope it’s not long because I really wanted to try to play every game. That was my goal [entering the season], but it was just really tough. My hammy was really bothering me for a long time, but I just kept playing through the fatigue.
‘‘I just really had the mindset after having a tough season last year with my ankle constantly hurt that I want to play injury-free. [Tuesday] night, when I went up for a dunk against Amar’e [Stoudemire], it grabbed me. I couldn’t really function how I wanted to function.’’
The Bulls already have lost center Joakim Noah (left shoulder) for the season and have been without forward Nikola Mirotic (appendicitis, hematoma) for more than a month, so the frontcourt already is undermanned.
Gibson said he had been dealing with soreness in the area for more than a month but opted to play through it. He said he didn’t think it would be a long-term problem and was more concerned about returning and helping the Bulls reach the playoffs.
‘‘Everybody understands that it’s coming down to the wire,’’ Gibson said. ‘‘We can’t do much but go out there and play. We can talk about it all we want, but the truth of the matter is we’re banged up. Everybody goes through a stretch. Everybody has their players, and we’ve been playing short-handed for a while. We’re just trying to hold on.
‘‘Everybody is one or two losses out of where they want to be. Luckily, we’re in the East.’’
Coach Fred Hoiberg spoke with injured guard Jimmy Butler (strained left knee) on the phone and got a positive update. He reiterated that Butler should be a full-go in practice Friday and might play at home Saturday against the Houston Rockets.
‘‘He’ll be back [Thursday in the Advocate Center], practice fully with the team on Friday and then we’ll make the decision,’’ Hoiberg said. ‘‘Still too early to tell if he’ll play on Saturday, but he’s definitely making progress.’’
The news wasn’t as promising for Mirotic, whom Hoiberg said was still likely a few weeks away.
‘‘The biggest thing is the pain and getting his strength and weight up, and that’s going to take some time,’’ Hoiberg said. ‘‘Again, he lost 15 pounds after that surgery, so the big thing is strength. And the confidence in knowing that he can take a blow down in that abdominal area and play through that.’’
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