One moment, the Bulls were getting ready to celebrate a strong start to the playoffs. A few seconds later, they were left wondering if their championship dreams had already ended.
Derrick Rose seemed to answer any questions about his health during Saturday's routine 103-91 victory over Philadelphia in Game 1 of this first-round playoff series. He shook off a slow start to produce 23 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists.
Contact information ( * required )
With about 1:15 remaining, Rose decided to drive once more to the basket. He made a jump stop with both feet, passed the ball and fell to the ground in a heap, grabbing his left knee.
A few hours after the game, the Bulls passed along the sobering news everyone had feared -- Rose tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and is out for the remainder of the playoffs.
One question everyone is bound to ask is why was Rose still in the game when the Bulls had a double-digit lead with less 90 seconds remaining? Just before the injury happened, the Sixers trimmed a 20-point margin down to 12.
The answer is Rose shouldn't have been on the floor. After sitting out 17 of the final 22 games in the regular season, it would have been smart to ease him back into major minutes instead of playing 37 in Game 1 of the playoffs.
But second-guessing fate is futile here.
This has been a rough year for Rose all around. Who's to say the same thing wouldn't have happened in the opening minute of Game 2? Or Sunday during practice? Rose and coach Tom Thibodeau are surely sick enough over the turn of events.
Game 2 will arrive Tuesday and the Bulls are forced to focus on moving along without their MVP and three-time all-star. They went 18-9 without Rose this season, so getting past Philadelphia and the Boston-Atlanta winner in the next round remain realistic goals.
Beating Miami is a challenge with or without Rose. But there is no reason for the Bulls to throw in the towel now and they won't. They'll probably be even more determined to meet the latest and toughest challenge of the season.
Before the bad news became available Saturday, Rose's teammates could sense the injury was serious.
"We're definitely worried," teammate Luol Deng said. "If it's a little injury, he wouldn't go down like that. Like I said, it looked bad. Right now, we're hoping for the best."
After the game, Rose stayed in the training room and didn't speak to reporters. While his brother Reggie and agent B.J. Armstrong waited anxiously in the hallway, team staff members grabbed Rose's belongings from his locker. A set of doors was closed to shield the view of Rose's golf cart ride toward the tunnel.
Needless to say, the Bulls' locker room was a quiet and subdued as if they'd lost by 30 points.
"It might be one of the saddest wins we've ever had," Carlos Boozer said. "Our prayers are with him and we're hoping for the best. We'll see what happens."
"It's tough. I feel really bad for him," Kyle Korver said. "He wants to be out there as bad as anybody else and it's been a tough year. We don't know what's wrong with him or exactly what happened, but it didn't look good."
After going 1-for-7 from the field in the first quarter, Rose was rolling. He hit 8 of 16 shots for 21 points in the final three quarters, including 3 baskets from 3-point range. The Bulls led by 13 points heading into the fourth quarter, stretched the lead to 20 and were never seriously threatened.
"He was real vocal. He looked like he was having fun," Taj Gibson said. "He was back to the old Derrick."
The news that one of the NBA's brightest young stars was taken out of the playoffs before the first game ended sent shock waves throughout the league.
There's no postponing the rest of the games, though.
"He can't catch a break this season," Boozer said. "Every time he would come back, it would be something different. I've been there, so I definitely feel for him."