Bulls put up brave front without Rose
A fan reacts as Bulls guard Derrick Rose shows the pain of his left-knee injury late in Saturday's Game 1 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers at the United Center.
John Starks | Staff Photographer
Derrick Rose was back at home Sunday, while the Bulls got back to business.
Neither side is enjoying the circumstances. Rose faces a 6-8 month recovery after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. The rest of the Bulls must continue their playoff run without him.
"I think we all feel awful for him," coach Tom Thibodeau said at the Berto Center. "Derrick's not only a great player; he's a great teammate and a great person.
"But it's not a death sentence. It's not a death sentence for him. It's not a death sentence for our team. He's going to come back. He'll come back better than ever."
Thibodeau said he has been in contact with Rose via text message. Several Bulls visited Rush University Medical Center after Saturday's win over Philadelphia to check on their teammate.
"I told him yesterday, this is just a minor setback for a major comeback," guard John Lucas III said. "He's going to come back stronger than ever. His spirits were good. He told us to go out and do what we did all year and that's win."
The next step for Rose is knee surgery at a date to be determined. It's common practice after ACL tears for the injured party to wait a couple of weeks before surgery, allowing time for the swelling to subside and range of motion to return.
Beyond that, Rose is definitely out of contention for a spot on Team USA at this summer's London Olympics. He likely will miss all of training camp next season and figures to return to action by January, give or take a few weeks.
The Bulls should get used to the idea of conceding the NBA's best record, after posting it two years in a row. If Luol Deng decides to have surgery on his left-wrist ligament tear after playing in the Olympics, the Bulls likely will be missing their two best players at the start of next season.
There is every reason to expect Rose to return to his all-star form after surgery. A torn ACL is a relatively uncommon injury in the NBA, but there are plenty of examples where players regained their athleticism and explosiveness.
The best comparison for Rose probably is Baron Davis, who tore his ACL in college.
"Derrick's an extremely tough kid," said Bulls general manager Gar Forman. "He's faced a lot of hurdles throughout the year. He'll fight his way through this. Our belief and his belief is he'll be back stronger than ever."
Rose will have to make some adjustments, such as eliminating the sharp cuts that might have contributed to this injury. But he has plenty of weapons to rely on.
His speed and explosiveness should return, his long-range shooting has improved every year, and his one-handed floaters have become one of the most dangerous late-game moves in the league.
One word of caution for the Bulls is to remember to follow their own guidelines. When Richard Hamilton returned from an injury layoff this year, they brought him back slowly, limiting him to about 20 minutes per game until he got comfortable.
Rose never eased back into the lineup. After missing 12 games with a groin injury, he played 39 minutes at New York and came away injured again. He played 37 minutes against Philadelphia on Saturday before getting hurt with about 1:15 left in the game.
Rose is much younger than Hamilton and his knee injury might have happened anyway, but when he's ready to play again, set some conservative guidelines and stick with them.
On Sunday, Thibodeau didn't want to second-guess the decision to have Rose on the floor in the final two minutes while the Bulls had a 12-point lead.
"Looking back, I don't think there was a problem," he said. "It was a 12-point game. You try to make the best decisions for the team."
Forman didn't have a problem with Rose, who missed 17 of the final 22 regular-season games, staying on the floor.
"There is absolutely no issue there," Forman said. "It's a playoff game. They had cut a lead down to 12. We're going to have our guys on the floor making sure we win the basketball game."
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