The collective intake of breath that went around the arena when Derrick Rose collapsed clutching his knee was not without good reason. A knee injury is not an easy one to overcome for all players, let alone one who dodges and weaves through traffic in the manner that Rose does. Few players need stability in their legs like Rose does. There are also fears that his explosive leap would be adversely affected by the ACL tear. Whilst this has not been proven wrong, Rose appears to be taking all the right steps towards recovery as the start of the season draws near.
“My rehab is good, my leg is getting a lot stronger and I’m able to run a little bit more. My body is feeling good. I’m in a peaceful place right now.”
Whilst the injury is a huge obstacle for Rose himself to overcome, if he’s not ready to go at the start of the season, the Bulls face a big challenge in trying to remain in the race for upon Rose’s return. Without Rose the Bulls have essentially no offense whatsoever, as no other player has the ability to create plays like he can. There will be a dangerous limbo period for the Bulls if Rose is not able to return straight away.
After yesterdays triumph, the Philadelphia 76ers only need one more win to become this years Memphis Grizzlies. For something that has not happened very often in history, we are looking at having the same thing occur two years in a row. Of course, injuries have played a major part in this series, with the absence of Derrick Rose the number one reason that many fall back to. But it’s hardly like the Sixers have been handed the series.
Luol Deng has had zero impact on this series so far and looks a shadow of the All Star that he is. Andre Iguodala has played some great defence on him, blocking him out of the game, basically out-Denging Deng. Luol also looks lost. The Sixers don’t really have a player for Deng to clamp down on. It is almost as if the absence of the a real superstar is detrimental to Deng’s play. He does seem to play best when he is playing off someone, when he is clamping down on the defensive end. His offense usually comes from his defence and that has been lacking. He is unfortunately carrying a wrist injury, which could not be helping him in the slightest.
However, the play of many Sixers have also helped fuel the wins. Jrue Holiday in particular has been playing out of his skin, turning in great performance after great performance. Most importantly, he’s not trying to do too much. Everything he does looks as if it is part of the offence, that it is natural. He rarely looks like he is forcing a play and is running Coach Doug Collin’s offense to perfection. Also, by getting out on the fast break, he brings the Sixer’s ridiculous athleticism into play, as shown by some of Iguodala’s and Thaddeus Young’s high flying dunks.
With the Bulls down 3-1, it looks like the Sixers will take this series. Even if the Bulls do get past the Sixers, they certainly are not slippng past the Celtics or the Heat. The Bulls championship hopes are most certainly shot this time around, especially without Noah, as well as Rose. The greatest measure of success is probably going to be how the rebound next year. Bulls players, staff and supporters are all desperately hoping that Rose’s knee injury will not stop him from playing at the same break neck speed that he usually does.
Because if he cannot, the Bulls could very well be facing a similar situation as the Portland Trailblazers and Brandon Roy. Promise cut short by injury.
One more win is all that is required for the lowly 76ers to topple the mighty Chicago Bulls as Spencer Hawes’ 22 points and clutch shooting powered them to a 82-89 win. Playing without not only Rose but also center Joakim Noah after he injured himself last game, the Bulls fought hard but could not stop the Sixers.
“When Spencer plays in a rhythm, he’s damn good.”
— Sixers head coach Doug Collins, on Hawes.
Carlos Boozer had another strong game, registering 23 points and 11 rebounds as the focus of the Bulls offense. Taj Gibson added 14 points and 12 rebounds as well as blocking four shots off the bench. Point guard Jrue Holiday poured in 20 and dished out 6 assists in another great performance. Could very well end up being a bit of a break out series for the young guard.
“We have to go back home and just play our game. We missed a number of open shots.”
— Chicago guard Kyle Korver.
Final Score: 91-103 Chicago Win (Chicago leads 1-0)
Despite a strong fightback towards the end of the final quarter, the Chicago Bulls took the series lead with a win against the Sixers at home. However, the focus of this game turned out to be Derrick Rose’s knee injury in the dying minutes. With the Sixers surging somewhat, Rose was left on the floor to perhaps quell any thoughts of a Philly resurrection. Then the worst possible thing for Bull’s fans happened. As he was driving towards the ring Rose jumped and landed, falling to his feet grimacing. Despite no contact whatsoever, Rose collapsed and had to be helped off the court. Unfortunately for him, he ended up tearing his ACL, ruling him out for the rest of the playoffs and seriously hurting the Bulls championship chances. To put it simply, the Bulls cannot get past Miami without Derrick Rose in the lineup. Yet now they will have to face that reality for the rest of their playoff run.
“I do not work backwards like you guys. The score was going the other way. He’s got to play. We sat him to about the 7-minute mark of the fourth quarter. Derrick has to work on finishing, on closing. Our team did not handle that part great. That’s what I was thinking.”
Thibodeau explaining his decision to keep Rose in the game.
Rose led the Bulls with 23 points before he was felled by injury while Elton Brand had 19 to lead the Sixers. Veteran guard Richard Hamilton also turned in a good game, only missing one shot on his way to 19 points.
Carmelo Anthony’s 42 points 9 rebounds and 5 assists were not enough for the Knicks to defeat the Miami Heat in a potential first round preview. While Carmelo was huge, there was little help to be had from the rest of his team, with only J.R Smith reaching double figures. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade carried the Heat, scoring 29 and 28 points respectively. Chris Bosh also finished with 16, but more importantly out rebound Tyson Chandler as he played the center position, pulling down 14 boards.
Three players scored 20 points or more and Pau Gasol knocked down two clutch back to back threes in overtime as the Lakers swept the series between themselves and Dallas. With Kobe Bryant still ancient, the Lakers’ offense hardly struggled without him, albeit it did require big games from unusual sources. Dirk Nowitzki had 24 points but shot just 9-28 from the field. Jason Terry also had 21 points off the bench.
Rajon Rondo had 20 points and handed out 16 assists as the Boston Celtics cruised to a win against the Charlotte Bobcats. With the Big Three staying home for the game, it was left to the younger brigade to take care of business. They did not disappoint, with Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo all scoring 20 points. Greg Stiemsma swatted 6 shots for the Celtics. Gerald Henderson also had 22 for the Cats.
After taking down the Boston Celtics, the Toronto Raptors claimed another top Eastern scalp as they defeated the Atlanta Hawks by 18 points. Demar DeRozan had 23 points but the Hawks shot themselves in the foot, only hitting one three for the entire game. Josh Smith lead all scorers with 26 points on 11-20 scoring.
The Detroit Pistons pushed the Bulls to overtime but could not finish the game off as they lost by six. Rodney Stuckey lead all with 32 point. Derrick Rose continued to struggle in his retun, scoring 24 points on 9-22 shooting. Joakim Noah also had 20 points and 17 rebounds including a phenomenal 13 offensive rebounds. 4 starters played 20 minutes plus for the Bulls.
The Orlando Magic got the win butlost another bigman as Glen Davis went down with a big knee. The injury leaves the Magic with only one slight tall player left in Ryan Anderson. Jameer Nelson had 21 and 9 assists as well as 9 rebounds to lead both teams.
Antawn Jamison had 21 for the Cavs.
Marcus Thornton Knocked down the elbow jumper to win the game with 3.4 seconds left. Thornton had 20 points to go along with the game winner. Wesley Matthews was the highlight for the injury torn Trailblazers, scoring 31 points on 8-10 shooting from downtown.
The New Orleans Hornets had a hige upset as they beat the Memphis. Rudy Gay had 24 points in the loss while Eric Gordon lead the Hornets with 18. Carl Landry had a double double off the bench registering 16 points and 11 boards.
Afflalo and Ty Lawson both dropped twenty points and Andrew Miller hadned out 11 assists off the bench as well as 7 boards as the Denver Nuggets defeated the Houston Rockets by a comfortable 15 points. Chase Budinger had 19 off the bench for the Rockets.
How do the Bulls manage to keep winning without reigning MVP Derrick Rose? Almost any other team would not be able to win anywhere near the same amount of games if they lost their number one player for the amount of time that the Bulls have gone without Rose. Imagine if the Thunder lost Kevin Durant for that long? Sure they might win more then half their games, but could they really maintain that same dominance like the Bulls have? Doubtful. Westbrook would be double teamed and they would lose a great deal of scoring without Durant in the lineup, and they would struggle to make up for it.
Perhaps the main reason that the Bulls have been able to keep it up is their focus on defence. Thibodeau preaches defence like few other coaches, a true Doc Rivers acolyte. This is embodied by their recent win over the Hawks, holding the Atlantan team to just 77 points. They don’t miss Rose’s scoring because they are able to avoid having to score a great deal of points. Boozer and Deng can score enough points to win if they are able to keep the oppositions scoring down. Their loss against Denver shows this, as they weren’t able to keep up as the Nuggets scored over 100 points. That is where the Bulls truly miss Rose’s presence.
The strength of the Bulls bench also helps this, as they are able to keep up both their scoring and defensive presence when they go to the bench. This is especially relevant when you talk about their bench front court, with Taj Gibson and Omer Asik coming off the bench. This two players give up little on the defensive end, even being put on by Thibodeau when Boozer and Noah aren’t getting the job done. Defense appears to be the key to the Bulls’ ability to make up for Rose’s absence.
Injuries are ravaging this shortened season. With some discussing whether this shortened season had been a positive thing and should continue, injuries are the number one reason why this shouldn’t happen. Amare Stoudemire has fallen, the exciting Jeremy Lin also taken by injury. They Golden State Warriors have Andrew Bogut out with injury, Stephen Curry has barely seen any game time whatsoever. Recently Ray Allen has been sidelined. Derrick Rose has had absolutely no chance to defend his MVP title, his season ravaged by a horrible back injury. Al Horford has been knocked out for most of the season as well. With this hectic schedule, all the excitement has covered up the terrible and growing list of injuries to the games’ best players. The game is losing its superstars to injury and whilst every season there are injuries, this season more than most has seen many teams lining up with nowhere near their best team lining up.
One only has to think of a team to think of a name. Cavaliers? Anderson Varejao. Oklahoma City? Eric Maynor. Chicago Bulls? Not just Rose, but also Rip Hamilton. It’s not just the team’s success that is being compromised, but also players’ careers could very well be compromised. What if Rose has developed a chronic back injury that has been triggered by the fast paced schedule? Will we ever see his absolute true potential? Whilst this is speculation in many regards, this really has to be considered in great depth before we start thinking about any kind of shortened or compressed season.
The ‘Cats horrific season continued as the 76’ers seem hell bent on proving that a team can make it far in this league of stars without one. 6 players scored in double figures for the visitors, with both Thaddeus Young and Jrue Holiday scoring 20 points to lead them. There was very little resistance from the Bobcats, but winning is far from Michael Jordan’s team’s mind at the moment. Kemba Walker put up some encouraging numbers, scoring 13 points and dishing out 5 assists backing up starter DJ Augustine.
The rookie combination in Cleveland is beginning to come together, with Kyrie Iriving and Tristan Thompson putting up big points between them. Thompson, handed the start, scored 27 points for the Cavs, while Kyrie continued on his charge towards the Rookie of the Year award with 26 points and 7 assists. Deron Williams scored 28 to lead all scorers for the Nets but could not contain the rookie sensation. Gerald Wallace also came up big for his new team, posting 27 points in the loss.
Joe Johnson’s 25 were not enough to overcome the combined efforts of the Boston Celtics Big 4. All of Pierce, Garnett, Allen and Rondo scored in double digits. Sharpshooter Ray Allen led the pack with 19 points, including 4-6 from behind the arc. Garnett also continued his mid-season revival with 16 points and 8 rebounds, and his defence was pivotal keeping Hawks star Josh Smith to 10 points on 5-20 shooting from the field.
Even a Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls were easily able to account for the Orlando Magic, sending the Floridian team to its second defeat in a row, both to the leaders of the East. The Magic struggled all night against a suffocating Bulls defence, with Orlando unable to score 20 points in any quarter, and hit rock bottom in the 4th with 11 points. Carlos Boozer paced the Bulls with 24 points whilst John Lucas continued with his surprising form scoring 20 points off the bench. Superstar centre Dwight Howard was the only one who offered any resistance with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Trying to avoid an 8 game road skid, the Dallas Mavericks have come out of Denver with a win next to their name. Wilson Chandler played big minutes off the bench for the home team in his return to Denver, yet George Karl left JaVale McGee on the bench for the game, opting to play Kosta Koufos as the back up centre instead. Afflalo led the Nuggets with 24 but it was Dirk Nowitzkis near triple double of 33 points 11 rebounds and 6 assists that proved to be the difference between the two teams.
Steph Curry was absent for yet another game as the Kevin Love led Timberwolves took care of business at home against the Golden State Warriors. Love powered the ‘Wolves all night with 36 points and 17 rebounds. In a battle of the big men, David Lee also had a good game, with 25 points and 9 rebounds to lead the Warriors, but it was not enough to overcome the Love show.