Despite injury, illness, Wade leaves his impression on Bulls

SHARE Despite injury, illness, Wade leaves his impression on Bulls

Robin Lopez, Dwyane Wade, Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic, and Jerian Grant watch their team play against the Minnesota Timberwolves from the bench during the Timberwolves’ 117-89 win over the Bulls on Sunday. (AP Photo/Hannah Foslien)

Dwyane Wade had found a groove before an injury to his right wrist took him out of the Bulls’ lineup.

Wade reached double figures in each of the four games he played on the recent six-game road trip, including a 31-point performance against the Sacramento Kings in which the Bulls watched a comfortable lead disappear, only to have Wade come to the rescue.

But after scoring 18 points in a loss to the Phoenix Suns, Wade’s wrist became an issue. He missed games against the Minnesota Timberwolves and Toronto Raptors with the injury, then sat out the game Thursday against the Boston Celtics with flulike symptoms.

‘‘It’s frustrating,’’ coach Fred Hoiberg said. ‘‘He was in a good rhythm, so to go down right now with the wrist injury [and] the illness, the [All-Star] break [this weekend] is coming at a good time for him.”

The Bulls won’t play again until they host the Suns next Friday. Hoiberg said he expects Wade to be back to full health after the break.

Despite not contributing on the floor in recent games, Wade has made an impression. He and guard Rajon Rondo have served as mentors to younger players such as Denzel Valentine, who, like other reserves, has seen increased playing time while Wade, Jimmy Butler, Nikola Mirotic and Paul Zipser have worked through injuries.

Valentine was part of the reserves’ 54-point contribution Tuesday against the Raptors and has benefitted from Wade’s experience. When Valentine returns to the bench, Wade is often the first player to greet him.

‘‘[Wade] still has a very positive impact on our team, even when he’s not out there on the court,’’ Hoiberg said.

Butler, who has been dealing with a heel injury, played in his second consecutive game against the Celtics and will represent the Bulls in the All-Star Game in New Orleans. The Bulls are a different team with Butler on the floor, but Wade’s absence also has been noticeable.

‘‘It takes away one of our stronger options,’’ forward Taj Gibson said. ‘‘D-Wade hurts you in so many different ways. He can post guards up, his three-point shot has been great for us this year [and] his leadership and his tenacity — we really want that and need that some games.’’

Shutting out the noise

Hoiberg, who has NBA experience as a player, as a coach and in the front office, said he does his best to ignore the rumor mill when it comes to the trade deadline Thursday.

While there has been plenty of speculation about what the Bulls will or won’t do next week, Hoiberg implied he was fine with the Bulls moving ahead as they are.

‘‘I like our guys,’’ Hoiberg said. ‘‘When we were at full strength last week, we were playing pretty good basketball. Hopefully we get back to that here soon, and hopefully we can have a good stretch run.’’

Follow me on Twitter @JeffArnold_.

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