- Associated Press - Thursday, March 10, 2011

DEERFIELD, ILL. (AP) - Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer is day-to-day with a sprained left ankle and could be out for as much as a week.

Coach Tom Thibodeau said Thursday that the power forward could be out “anywhere from a couple days to a week” after he was injured in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s 101-84 win at Charlotte.

Boozer was going for a layup when he was knocked to the floor on a flagrant foul by Kwame Brown. His leg bent awkwardly, his ankle twisting, and he limped off the court.

X-rays and an MRI confirmed the extent of the injury.

“It was a hard foul, but that’s part of it,” Thibodeau said. “You just have to move on, get ready for the next game.”

Could he play in the next game?

“He had swelling today,” Thibodeau said. “If the swelling is down more and he can go, he’ll go. If it isn’t … it will really depend on how much swelling he has.”

Taj Gibson figures to start in his place, although Thibodeau would not commit to that, and veteran Kurt Thomas will likely re-enter the rotation. Chicago hosts Atlanta on Friday and Utah on Saturday.

The Bulls (45-18) have won 11 of 13 and trail Eastern Conference leader Boston by 1 1/2 games.

Losing Boozer, who’s second on the team at 18.3 points and 9.6 rebounds, would leave the Bulls without their main low-post threat, but it’s a blow Chicago should be able to withstand at least for now.

The Bulls got off to a 9-6 start while he was recuperating from a broken bone in his right hand and then went 22-8 with Joakim Noah sidelined by a torn ligament in his right thumb. That includes a stretch in which the Bulls took two of three without their top two big men, with Boozer nursing a sprained left ankle.

Thibodeau said the injury this time was similar. That’s a relief for the Bulls, considering how nasty the fall looked.

“I thought something was really messed up,” All-Star point guard Derrick Rose said. “For a guy that’s 260, 270 falling like that, I thought something was torn, but thank God it was just a sprain.”