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Thomas suspended for missing practice
By Mike McGraw | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 3/6/2008 12:19 AM

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The struggling Bulls received another jolt when second-year forward Tyrus Thomas was given a two-game suspension for missing Wednesday's practice.

The Bulls provided no other information about the incident. Coach Jim Boylan did not mention Thomas' absence following practice. It's common for some players to scatter before the media are permitted to enter the gym.

Thomas had one of his worst games of the season Tuesday against Memphis. He picked up 4 fouls in just nine minutes and finished with no points, 1 rebound and 2 turnovers.

Prior to that, though, Thomas produced 12 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks in Sunday's loss at Cleveland. The Bulls moved newcomer Drew Gooden into the starting lineup for the Cavaliers game and returned Thomas to a reserve role.

Thomas has been through plenty of ups and downs during his two seasons with the Bulls but never complained publicly about his role.

The 6-foot-9 forward is averaging 6.3 points and 4.6 rebounds this season. Andres Nocioni, Aaron Gray and possibly Cedric Simmons figure to get more playing time the next two nights when the Bulls host Cleveland and visit Boston.

Thabo stays out: Thabo Sefolosha missed another practice with a groin strain and is almost certain to miss his fourth straight game tonight.

Coach Jim Boylan said Sefolosha has seen plenty of doctors and the injury has been diagnosed as no more than a strain, but his return is difficult to project.

"He's done all kinds of testing," Boylan said. "Apparently there's no hernia. They gave me three or four hernia names that he doesn't have."

Gooden still growing: Asked again Wednesday about his lengthening beard, Bulls forward Drew Gooden insisted he won't cave in on his no-shave bet with longtime friend DeShawn Stevenson of the Washington Wizards.

"There's a lot of controversy surrounding my beard that I should have cut it, especially with the women," Gooden said with a laugh. "But I'm not going to go for those scare tactics. That's not going to work. I am determined to win."

Bull horns: Beware that tonight's game against Cleveland is an extra-early 6 p.m. start for TNT. … The Bulls autographed the Northern Illinois T-shirts they wore Feb. 20 and 22, then donated the shirts to the NIU Foundation, which established a scholarship fund to honor the memory of the victims in the Feb. 14 incident on campus.

Tonight's tipoff

Bulls vs. Cleveland Cavaliers at the United Center, 6 p.m.

TV: TNT

Radio: WMVP 1000-AM

Update: Only two Cavaliers scored in double figures Sunday, but LeBron James' 37 points were more than enough to beat the Bulls 95-86. This is just the second of four meetings between the teams. Center Zydrunas Ilgauskas has missed the past two games with a sore back and most likely won't play tonight.

Familiar faces: In their first five games since being traded from the Bulls, Ben Wallace has averaged 8.8 rebounds and 8.0 points, while Joe Smith has contributed 9.0 points and 5.4 boards.

Next: Boston Celtics at the TD Banknorth Garden, 6 p.m. Friday

-- Mike McGraw