Bibby returns from thumb injury, thrown out of game

Updated: November 1, 2006, 10:50 PM ET
Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Mike Bibby returned to the court much sooner than the Sacramento Kings initially expected, then left in even more stunning fashion in Wednesday night's season opener against Minnesota.

Bibby, who was expected to miss the first two weeks of the season with a thumb injury, felt good enough after the morning shootaround to start against the Timberwolves.

Mike Bibby

But Bibby's night ended abruptly in the fourth quarter when he was ejected after arguing with official Derrick Stafford.

Bibby drew two quick technicals with just under 3 minutes to play in a tight game, and the timing couldn't have been worse.

The Kings trailed 83-77 when Bibby argued a foul call with Stafford. After receiving one technical, he continued to bark at the official and was promptly ejected.

Kevin Garnett made both foul shots and two more free throws for getting fouled to give Minnesota an 87-77 lead.

It was a disappointing finish to an inspiring comeback for Bibby, who talked new coach Eric Musselman into letting him play.

"There was a lot of discussion," Musselman said. "When we got on the bus, Mike looked me right in the eye and said, 'Have you activated me yet?' I said, 'No. How's it feel?'

"He said, 'Activate me."'

Bibby averaged 21.1 points and 5.4 assists while playing all 82 games last season. He was diagnosed with a mallet thumb -- an injury in which a finger tendon becomes detached from a bone, preventing the finger from fully extending.

Musselman said the thumb isn't bothering Bibby nearly as much as his right wrist, which was hurt on the same play Oct. 22.

Kings coaches watched Bibby closely at shootaround to see if he was favoring his right hand, but Musselman said everything looked good and he didn't think Bibby risked further injury by coming back so soon.

Timberwolves coach Dwane Casey wasn't surprised by the move. He said the Wolves prepared for the opener with the idea that Bibby could play.

"We know his tendencies, we know he's an All-Star," Casey said. "It doesn't change anything we do with our defensive schemes."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press