DALLAS — Two days after publicly declaring his desire to play all 82 games, and nine days shy of the one-year anniversary from the thumb injury that cut short his rookie season, Wendell Carter Jr. couldn't believe it was happening again.
"While I was laying down on the ground, I’m like, ‘Man, this is the exact moment I was hurt last year.' And it affected a lot of stuff for myself and my team," Carter said late Monday after spraining his right ankle. "I just pray to God I can come back sooner. My goal is to come back no later than the end of this month. That’s what I’m looking forward to right now."
Carter rolled his right ankle after landing on Dwight Powell's foot on a drive with 8 minutes, 34 seconds left in the third quarter. He spent several minutes writhing on the floor in pain before getting carried to a waiting wheelchair that took him to the locker room. After the game, Carter's ankle sported a golf-ball-sized knot from swelling and he used crutches to navigate his way back from the shower. He's headed for an MRI exam Tuesday for what he called a moderate sprain, but he tried to put his best face forward.
"My goal is to come back by Wednesday. That’s just kind of the person I am. I want to help my team the sooner the better," he said. "But it hurts a lot. I just talked about playing all 82 games. Do as much therapy as I possibly can. Do the test. And see if I can go Wednesday. That’s my mindset right now."
Carter is enjoying a solid second season in which he has 17 double-doubles and has emerged as a defensive leader. He had six points and six rebounds in just shy of 18 minutes against the Mavericks before exiting. This is the first sprained ankle of his career at any level.
"It was probably the worst pain I ever endured as far as playing basketball," Carter said. "It was very frightening. I couldn’t feel my toes after awhile."
Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Bulls games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.