TORONTO — Derrick Rose let his game do the talking in the Bulls’ 100-93 victory Thursday against the Raptors.
And that’s best for everyone involved.
Thanks to 20 points from Rose, as well as a season-high 27 from Pau Gasol, the Bulls (7-2) sent an early message to the up-and-coming Raptors (7-2) that the Eastern Conference isn’t their playground just yet.
Rose’s message earlier in the day wasn’t quite as comforting. Neither was the fact that Rose was forced to leave the game with 1:53 left after he tweaked his left hamstring.
“Cramps in my hamstring, but I guess it’s minor,’’ Rose said. “Just overstepped, probably stretched out a little bit more with my left leg, probably got a cramp in it.
“This is going to happen. I’ve talked to a lot of people who have had surgeries, my agent [B.J. Armstrong] had five or six surgeries. This is going to happen, especially when you miss two years.’’
Hours before his hamstring became the latest medical scare, Rose addressed the media for the first time since his “long-term’’ comments from Tuesday and remained defiant.
When asked if he understood why some were upset with his comments, Rose said, “No, no, but I could care less.’’
In an interview Tuesday, Rose was asked how he thought he had been playing and said, “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 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.’’
Rose refused to meet with the media Wednesday but was asked Thursday if he was surprised his comments had created such a furor.
“No, it comes with the territory,’’ Rose said. “I know that I’ve been there ever since I came to the NBA. But as far as everything that comes along with my story, missing two years, of course, this is going to happen. I’m not worried about it as long as I’m being myself.’’
Center Joakim Noah only had six points and eight rebounds, so his best performance came after the game in defense of Rose.
“I’m just watching the power that [the media] have,’’ Noah said. “You guys can really portray somebody as something he’s not. That, to me, is a little disappointing because I know how much he cares about this game.
‘‘I see it every day. We’re all in this together. This is not a one-man team. We need him. I don’t want to see him down. I know sometimes it’s frustrating. You got injuries. You got tweaks. Every time something happens to him, people act like it’s the end of the world.
“That’s so [expletive] lame to me. Like, relax. Like, OK, he’s coming back from two crazy surgeries. Obviously, we’re being conservative with him, and when things aren’t going right, he has to listen to his body more than anybody. So everybody needs to chill the [expletive] out.’’