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- Bulls forward Taj Gibson will miss a game for the first time this season because of a sprained MCL in his left knee. Serving as the backup to Carlos Boozer at power forward, Gibson was averaging 7.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Gibson has also had five starts this season, playing in place of Boozer or Joakim Noah. Gibson is expected to be out about two weeks. In his place, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau can call on seldom used forward Vladimir Radmanovic or move Noah to power forward and play seldom-used center Nazr Mohammed. He could also go small with Luol Deng playing power forward and Jimmy Butler playing small forward. “We will see how the game is unfolding,” Thibodeau said. “We have a lot of versatility.”
- After warming up Tuesday at the United Center, Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich was declared ready to go for only the second time in the last 12 games. The Bulls are 2-8 in the last 10 games Hinrich missed due to an infection in his right elbow and pain that followed. Hinrich has missed a total of 15 games this season and the Bulls are 5-10 in those games.
- Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving will miss the game due to a sore knee. “It bothered him in the Orlando game, and in the Miami game in bothered him more,’’ said Cleveland coach Bryon Scott. Shaun Livingston will start in Irving’s place. Irving missed 11 games earlier this season with a broken left index finger. The Cavaliers are 2-9 without Irving.
- Here is an odd thing about the Bulls-Cavaliers series, in which the Bulls have won 11 straight games: In the two seasons Irving has been in the National Basketball Association, he and Bulls guard Derrick Rose have never faced each other due to injury to one player or the other. “I think we are all looking forward to that,’’ Scott said. “I think it will be very interesting.” Rose has not played at all this season followed an ACL tear last spring.
- The Bulls are playing consecutive home games for the first time since they played three in a row at home Jan. 21-25. The Bulls play Cleveland, Philadelphia and Brooklyn this week, all at the United Center. The Bulls are a woeful 15-13 at the United Center and 17-11 on the road.
– Kent McDill