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Absence of Pau Gasol hamstrings Bulls in loss to Cavaliers

Life without Pau Gasol on Sunday wasn’t fun for the Bulls.

Now the question is exactly how long they will be without Gasol, who was their most reliable player for much of the season.

Gasol missed Game 4 against the Cleveland Cavaliers with the strained left hamstring that forced him out in the third quarter of Game 3 on Friday. And he said he wasn’t sure whether he would be ready to play in Game 5 on Tuesday in Cleveland.

‘‘When you miss a player like Pau, it’s devastating,’’ guard Derrick Rose said. ‘‘But I think the guys that stepped in, they did their job.

‘‘Pau, the way that he scores, just his presence on the floor, just the way he shoots the ball, rebounds the ball, it’s huge. I think the guys that stepped in, they did their job and played well.’’

That’s up for debate.

Taj Gibson, who started for Gasol, scored only six points on 2-for-7 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds. Nikola Mirotic, who finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting, was 1-for-9 from the field, and his defense was shaky at best. Late in the game, he was on the court only when the Bulls had the ball.

Gasol is averaging 15.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in the playoffs and has been a go-to third scoring option after Rose and guard Jimmy Butler.

Gasol didn’t practice Saturday and didn’t do any basketball activities before the game, only receiving treatment. The Bulls only are scheduled to watch film Monday, so that means Gasol again will have a treatment day.

‘‘We’ve dealt with injuries before, so the next guy gets in there and gets the job done,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. ‘‘We have guys that are more than capable.’’

Bad Blatt

Not only did Cavs coach David Blatt originally want LeBron James to inbound the ball on the final play, but he tried to call a timeout when the team didn’t have any left after Rose’s tying layup.

Assistant Tyronn Lue stopped him before the officials saw it, which would have resulted in a technical foul with the score tied.

‘‘We know we didn’t have any timeouts at that point and time, and we didn’t need a [technical],’’ James said. ‘‘That’s why we’re a unit; that’s why we’re a team. Players make mistakes, coaches make mistakes, and we have to be able to cover for one another. T-Lue did that by covering for Blatt.’’

Body count

Butler was limping during the game, and Gibson hurt his right knee in the fourth quarter, forcing him to the bench for a time.

Afterward, Gibson said that the knee was sore but that he would be good to go for Game 5.

‘‘Just got to play through it,’’ Gibson said.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com
Twitter: @suntimes_hoops