ATLANTA — Jimmy Butler, the man with the sore ribs, put it dramatically: "It hurts. I guess you have to deal with it. This is the life we chose. Gotta play through it."
But he could not play through it Tuesday night against the Atlanta Hawks.
Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Butler "warmed up and said he is feeling better, but he's not quite there."
"It's a sensitive area," Thibodeau said. "Each day you have to see if he's comfortable enough to be out there. He's close."
Butler injured the ribs in a collision Friday against the Denver Nuggets and has missed the last two games.
"There has been a little bit (of improvement)," Butler said before the Tuesday morning shootaround, "but with your ribs, it's just tough. You can't move, you get hit and it's hard to breathe at times."
The Bulls entered Tuesday 4-10 in games Butler has missed while nursing rib, toe, ankle and thigh injuries.
"You have to look at it deeper than that," Thibodeau said. "At the beginning of the season when he was out, you're looking at Luol (Deng) and Derrick (Rose) being out along with him."
The Bulls have few days off coming up. They play host to the Goldne State Warriors on Wednesday and visit the Dallas Mavericks on Friday. Beginning Sunday, they suit up four times in six days.
LIKE A GLOVE: Bulls guard Tony Snell made his 12th career start but struggled early, missing a lightly contested 16-foot jumper and 3-pointer and allowing Jeff Teague to juke him on a drive.
Despite the awkward start, Snell has proved his value as the 20th pick in the draft.
"He really fits them well," Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. "He's long, can guard twos, threes and even some fours. He's good attacking off the dribble and makes just enough shots to keep you honest. He fits that long, athletic wing defender that they seem to have a lot of."
BODY SHOT: Carlos Boozer got hit with a technical foul in the first quarter. While battling Mike Scott for position, he reached and shoved Scott in the neck.
A few plays later, Boozer sent a pass into the first row after a miscommunication with Mike Dunleavy.