Around here, Derrick Rose’s groin has become like a winner-take-all raffle ticket.
So much of the future depends on it coming up … well, let’s say roses.
The Bulls point guard returned to the lineup Sunday in a 100-99 overtime loss to the Knicks in Madison Square Garden.
This wasn’t quite as dramatic as Willis Reed limping onto the court in the 1970 NBA Finals, or Kirk Gibson limping around the bases for the Dodgers in the 1988 World Series.
It just seemed a little like that for the Bulls.
Next they’ll learn whether they won or lost in New York. The scoreboard said they lost, but what matters most is that dang groin and Rose’s overall health on the day after the day before.
The NBA’s reigning Most Valuable Player missed 12 straight games since playing against the same Knicks on March 12 in the United Center.
How successful Rose’s comeback was depends on how he survived playing 39 long, hard, dramatic minutes.
If Rose wakes up aching, the Bulls will have lost a doubleheader to the Knicks. If he suffers no consequences from his heavy-duty day at the office, it’ll be one gigantic victory.
The Bulls had to find out sooner or later what kind of condition Rose will be in for the playoffs, which begin later this month, or whether he’ll be in any condition at all.
The groin was merely the latest in Rose’s season of suffering. Previously were problems with a toe and an Achilles. It’s nearly inconceivable to imagine he’ll be 100 percent for the postseason after the way the past few months have gone.
But, say, 80 percent of Rose will be better than nothing, so breaths were held when Rose went crashing beyond the end line in the first quarter.
Up he came, and the Bulls exhaled.
The desperate Knicks figured to make this a physically stressful game, what with them being in a battle for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff berth.
Stressful it was. The Bulls trailed by 21 points late in the first quarter, led by 10 late in the fourth quarter, and finally lost out to Carmelo Anthony’s brilliance.
Naturally, Rose was in the middle of all the ups and downs and ins and outs and thrills and chills.
When Rose appeared to be rusty in the first half, the Bulls fell behind. When he appeared to shake it off in the third quarter, they rallied. When he and Luol Deng each missed 2 free throws in the final minute of regulation, Anthony was allowed to send the game into overtime with a 3-point shot from Connecticut. After Anthony connected on another deep 3 in overtime, Rose missed a game-winner at the buzzer.
Yet the Bulls won’t learn whether they really lost until Rose gets out of bed today.
As gutsy as Rose was while scoring 29 points — 22 after halftime — his 8 turnovers indicated that he wasn’t completely his old self yet.
The best thing Rose did was get shots, 26 of them. Sometimes when a player returns from a long absence, being able to get shots is as important as making them.
Whether Rose’s celebrated groin will become healthy enough for him to keep getting good looks, and start making more of them, will determine the Bulls’ playoff destiny.
So, so much depends on how Derrick Rose feels getting out of bed this morning.
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