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updated: 11/1/2013 12:01 AM

Rose definitely a dramatic work in progress

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  • Bulls guard Derrick Rose warms up before Thursday's game against the New York Knicks at United Center.

    Bulls guard Derrick Rose warms up before Thursday's game against the New York Knicks at United Center.
    Associated Press


So this is how it's going to be with Derrick Rose.

The question is for how long.

For how long will the Bulls, their fans the entire NBA have to be on Rose alarm alert?

How long will Rose tease with a physical ailment in the morning, wind up playing in the evening, perform so-so at best, have people wanting more and finally win the game?

Rose hit a floater with 5.7 seconds remaining for the final points in Thursday night's 82-81 victory in the Bulls' home opener.

The real irony is that the shot was just the kind that Rose had trouble converting while previously shooting 6-for-22 from the field.

"The thing to me is that he showed a lot of toughness," Bulls' coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He had the courage to take and make the last play."

Rose finished with 18 points in 34 minutes. The best is yet to come, the Bulls have to figure, as their franchise player tries to get his game legs under him.

Assuming Rose can stay healthy, that is.

The sirens began blaring ever so faintly at the Bulls' morning shootaround. Thibodeau revealed that Rose had a sore neck and didn't practice Wednesday or participate in the shootaround.

Uh-oh. Is he scratched from the game? Is it season-threatening? Career-threatening? Life-threatening?

Rose proceeded to insist that he would play against the Knicks, yet two hours before tipoff Thibodeau professed to have no update on the condition of his superstar point guard.

"Not yet," Thibodeau said in his customarily mysterious manner.

My goodness, you might need Edward Snowden to snitch Bulls secrets before getting anything out of Thibodeau.

The Rose drama doesn't figure to be over yet. Little things like a sore neck are going to surface as he completes his comeback from knee surgery.

Word might circulate that Rose has leg cramps, or that he pulled a calf muscle, or that some other body part was tweaked.

Never mind that these are the kinks that might have been worked out if Rose had returned to games last spring after doctors cleared him.

That issue is over. This is now: Rose is playing his way back into game form and it just might be more of a process than expected.

Nobody could be blamed for having flashbacks to Kerry Wood while at least fearing that any moment Rose might have to sit down after breaking down.

Maybe that's simply a worst-case scenario expressed by a simpleton. But hey, this is Chicago and it's best to hope for the best while bracing for something less than the best.

A sore neck in practice is one thing. A tumble to the court in a heap during a game and Rose not getting up immediately would be an altogether different concern.

So far Rose has made it through two regular-season games well enough, though not yet as "the nightmare" for opponents that Knicks' coach Mike Woodson called him.

Rose has made only 11 of 38 field-goal attempts this week. If it's any consolation, Knicks star Carmelo Anthony made only 8 of 24 shots against the Bulls.

Encouraging is that Rose is getting his shots. He's getting to the hoop even if not finishing often enough yet despite his improved elevation and explosiveness.

"We trust he'll make the right play," Thibodeau said of Rose having the ball at the end.

It'll be interesting to monitor how many more days there are like Thursday, when a minor Rose ache sounds like a major pain until he shows up on the court and wins the game in the final seconds.

Ideally, of course, all of the Derrick Rose alert alarms will be out of the Bulls' system by the time the playoffs arrive.

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