- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 22, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic will miss Thursday’s playoff game at Milwaukee because of an injured left knee.

The Bulls ruled Mirotic out for Game 3, while veteran guard Kirk Hinrich (left knee) was listed as questionable after going through a full practice on Wednesday. Chicago leads the first-round series 2-0.

Coach Tom Thibodeau said Mirotic was feeling better Wednesday. He rode the stationary bike during practice and did some light shooting afterward, although he was not moving much or jumping.

“He still has a ways to go,” Thibodeau said.

Mirotic strained his quadriceps and bruised his knee in a scrum for a loose ball with Milwaukee’s Zaza Pachulia late in Monday’s victory, leading to a heated exchange and technical fouls for both players. Pachulia was also called for one about a minute earlier for elbowing Mirotic in the head. The second technical resulted in his ejection.

With Mirotic out, the Bulls find themselves in a familiar spot - missing an important player.

They fought through a long list of injuries to win 50 games and earn the third seed in the Eastern Conference. They will have to make do without Mirotic at least for one game.

“He adds a lot of versatility to our frontcourt,” Pau Gasol said. “(It’s) going to be more open when he’s out there because of his shooting ability. We’re going to miss some of his stuff. At the same time, Taj (Gibson) is going to get a little more minutes and we’re going to work with what we have, like we have been doing all season long.”

Mirotic emerged as one of the league’s top rookies, and he was particularly good late in games and down the regular-season stretch.

The Serbian forward who moved to the NBA from the Spanish league averaged 20.8 points in March and led the NBA in fourth-quarter scoring for the month, with LeBron James and Russell Westbrook ranking second and third.

He provided a spark in the final 91 seconds of the first half of Game 2, hitting a 3-pointer and two layups to help the Bulls grab a 39-38 lead.

“It will be an adjustment,” Mike Dunleavy Jr. said. “We’re going to miss that firepower, but I think we get Kirk back and we have guys that can fill in hopefully. I mean he’s a unique player, so can’t really duplicate exactly what he does, but we’ve got guys that can fill in and hopefully hold down the fort.”

Hinrich missed the final two regular-season games and the first two in this series.

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