My heart skipped a beat. There was Derrick Rose going down with another non contact injury. The first angle made it look like his knee buckled. Oh #!@#$. Then the reverse angle showed clearly that his left ankle gave way on him and his leg just kind of jammed up.
This is the type of thing that happens when you're going hard on an ankle that probably feels okay but isn't 100% okay underneath yet. After the game, it was his hamstring which was said to have tightened up. The injury deemed minor enough that an MRI may not even be required.
The injury comes after a day of Derrick Rose drama.
"I feel I’ve been managing myself pretty good," Rose said. "I know a lot of people get mad when they see me sit out. But I think a lot of people don’t understand that when I sit out it’s not because of this year. I’m thinking about long-term. I’m thinking about after I’m done with basketball, having graduations to go to, having meetings to go to. I don’t want to be in my meetings all sore or be at my son’s graduation all sore just because of something I did in the past. Just learning and being smart."
He didn't back off the comments yesterday saying he could care less and was just being himself. The comments were stupid. They just enrage a fan base already frustrated with his injuries and make him look like he simply doesn't care enough.
In the end, the comments are just comments, either Rose will get and stay healthy long enough to help the Bulls or he won't. If he does fans won't care about such comments if he doesn't then they'll hate him regardless what he says.
In the end, fans are like that. Personally, whether he's being honest, himself, or whatever, saying such a thing is a pretty lousy PR move, and it continues along the trend that Derrick Rose has very little grasp on how to speak to the media and of how he's perceived.
Fortunately, championships aren't won or lost by perception. Unfortunately, they do require your star players to stay healthy and play well.
And on to the actual game...
Basketball is a game of runs, and that was never so apparent as it was in this game. The teams traded blows in the first quarter with frequent lead changes. Toronto pulled away in a second quarter started with poor bench play again, but punctuated by the starters inability to get much done.
In the third, the Bulls turned on their A game and annihilated the Raptors taking control of the game. Everything rolled along smoothly until five or so minutes left when Toronto went small and trapped the Bulls at every possession and took an 18 point lead down to five in a few minutes.
Then Derrick Rose went out.
Things started to actually look pretty bleak for the Bulls despite a five point lead, but Jimmy Butler bailed them out by creating a shot off the dribble and knocking down the long mid range jumper. It's a shot you don't love, it's a shot the Raptors were probably content to live with, but it's the shot that probably saved the game.
The momentum which was unstoppable a moment earlier was slowed, and the Raptors were never able to draw any closer.
Is Pau Gasol better than Carmelo Anthony?
Bulls fans should ask themselves this question. Would the team even be better if you just swapped Carmelo and Pau? The Bulls would have also likely lost Dunleavy and mirotic for certain, possibly McDermott, and maybe Gibson, but even ignoring those losses, so far Pau Gasol has kicked Carmelo's ass in the NBA this season.
Pau Gasol kept the Bulls afloat in the second period when the Raptors were in danger of running away with this thing. Pau gave Chicago efficient scoring when they needed him to and made great use of his size all night.
He drew a foul on a key possession in the end game to get to the free throw line while the Bulls still couldn't throw the ball into the ocean. The commentators couldn't stop gushing about how rejuvenated he looks, and it was hard to argue last night.
Teamwork is key
The Bulls ha 26 assists on 37 baskets. That's not some incredible rate that we'll rarely see again in our lifetime, but what makes it interesting is the way they were spread out. Noah and Butler each had six assists. Kirk Hinrich was next with five, followed by Derrick Rose with four.
The Bulls are able to initiate their offense from may different points of attack. Everyone is willing and able to share the ball and that got them plenty of quality looks.
Overall, I'm not sure the Bulls even played that well overall in this game. Derrick Rose had a pedestrian night prior to getting hurt. Aaron Books had his second off night of the year. Chicago had one of its worst performances from beyond the arc.
For everything that went well for them to build up a dominating lead, it really wasn't one of their crispest performances. That bodes really well for them getting better and matching up against the elite teams as the season wears on and later on in the playoffs.
Hats off to Jimmy Butler
Besides the key basket which effectively stopped the Raptors run, he knocked down free throws at the end, rebounded well, and held the Raptors best player to a dismal performance.
DeMar DeRozan was dropping 20 on everyone, against Jimmy he had 10 points on 3-17 shooting. That was more or less the game for Toronto. They couldn't overcome their leading scorer throwing up a turd of a game. Butler did exactly what he needed to.
He kept DeRozan off the free throw line, forced him to make tough jumpers, and watched him fail. Overall the Bulls held the Raptors to just 39.3% shooting from the field which was a dominant performance on the road against a very good offense.
Things about to get interesting
The Bulls play the Pacers on Saturday in Chicago before heading out onto the road. Then they play the Clippers, suddenly red hot Kings, and Blazers. Hopefully Derrick Rose is back and able to stay on the court at that point.
Bulls fans will get a chance to see how they fare against real competition on a night after night basis in this stretch, but it won't be much of a measuring stick if Derrick is unable to go.
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