Bulls wing Derrick Jones Jr. is determined to play through the pain of a fractured right index finger, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago writes. The Bulls are already playing without Zach LaVine, Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Patrick Williams and Javonte Green due to injuries.
When Jones initially broke his finger in January, he was given a six-to-eight week recovery timeline. However, the Bulls later issued an update saying the forward would be able to return sooner if he was able to play with a splint. That was less than three weeks ago.
Jones returned on Saturday against the Thunder, playing 23 minutes off the bench. In addition to a finger injury, he was also dealing with a knee injury he suffered a couple weeks before breaking his finger, so this was his first action in a month.
“Personally, I love to compete, and me being out since January 12 has been eating me alive on the inside,” Jones said. “I was just waiting for this pain to die down a little bit so I could hop back out there. Soon as it went away a little bit, I was right back out there tonight.”
There’s more from the Central Division:
- Pacers rookie Chris Duarte will miss the team’s next two games after jamming his toe, Scott Agness of FieldHouse Files tweets. Duarte exited early in Sunday’s game against Minnesota due to the injury. It could impact his availability for the Rising Stars Game, which takes place on Friday, Agness notes.
- The Cavaliers‘ loss to the Sixers on Saturday was a valuable experience for the team, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writes. Cleveland lost the road game 93-103, allowing Joel Embiid to finish with a 40-point triple-double. “The intensity of which you’re going to have to play at in order to compete with teams like this down the stretch,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said after being asked what could be taken from the loss, according to Fedor. “It was a clear message from the beginning of the game the intensity that they were coming with, the physicality that they played with. These are the tests that we talk about, and these are the lessons that we have to learn.”
- Despite joining the Pacers on the day of a game, Jalen Smith showed promise in his debut on Sunday, James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star writes. Smith finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds off the bench, logging 23 minutes. Indiana acquired him and a 2022 second-round pick from Phoenix in exchange for Torrey Craig last week.