By Sam Zuba-
UNITED CENTER (CBS) When Taj Gibson rolled his ankle late in the third quarter Tuesday night, the feeling at the United Center was palpable.
No, not this again.
Fortunately for the Bulls, Gibson was taken to the locker room to be examined but returned with just over six minutes to play in the fourth quarter – just in time for the Bulls to defeat the 76ers, 77-69, to force a Game 6 in Philadelphia on Thursday.
Hurt or not, Gibson knew he would return to the game.
“The only way they were taking me off the court was if I hurt it again,” Gibson said after the game.
Though the extent of his injury is unknown, when asked if he’d play in Game 6, Gibson wasn’t shy.
“I will do everything in my power to play Thursday night,” he said.
Gibson provided a much-needed spark for the Bulls off the bench, recording four blocked shots, eight points and seven rebounds in 26 minutes, giving life to the at-time quiet Bulls’ offense.
With Joakim Noah sidelined for the foreseeable future, Gibson’s presence on the court is now invaluable.
“Taj is playing great basketball for us right now,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “You hate to see anyone go down. He’s got a lot of toughness. If he can go, he’ll go. We need everybody.”
If, however, Gibson can’t play, the Bulls will need someone to step up, yet again, for an injured player.
“You never know where it’s going to come from,” Thibodeau said. “Tonight, it came from Ronnie (Brewer,) it came from Omer (Asik.) Throughout the year, everyone who has been on our roster has done a good job. We have to concentrate on what we need to do next and be ready.”