LOS ANGELES – So much for the highly-hyped Derrick Rose-Chris Paul showdown on Monday night.
Hard to have when only one of them showed up.
The other? Rose, and his latest injury of the day – a strained left hamstring – missed his second consecutive game, and the sixth of the 11 games the Bulls have played this season.
“For sure, especially when you have knee problems or knee injuries,’’ Rose said, when asked about making sure everything is healed up 100 percent before he goes back onto the court. “Hamstrings are huge in the process of coming back. They control everything in terms of accelerating. You need them a lot, especially the way that I play.’’
The good news for the Bulls was that Rose was progressing. He did participate in the Monday morning shootaround hours before the tip off with the Los Angeles Clippers, as he continued to get the rust off of his game, playing in just 15 regular-season contests since the 2012 playoffs.
And while it would seem to be yet another setback in getting Rose back to a dominant player, the 2011 league MVP considered it just a small bump in a long season.
“No, it’s too early to say that [this is a major setback],’’ Rose said. “Every game I felt like I had control of myself and the game as far as playing the way I wanted to play. Missing shots is part of it. But I felt whenever I was out there, it wasn’t the rust where I look terrible. I was just missing shots. If anything, it helped my confidence knowing that being out two years and being able to come back and play with these great athletes that are on this level. It gave me confidence every game and every day.’’
Not that Rose needs affirmation from his teammates – current and former – but the fact that Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, Mike Dunleavy and former teammate Luol Deng have each come out over the last week and defended Rose against critics that feel like he’s been coming up too soft this season, hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“Just in awe that people really care about me,’’ Rose said. “Everything that goes on in my life, the good and the bad, the negative and positive, I just know I have people in my corner that are there for me. That’s what I try to think about whenever I do hear things like that.
“I think I have a small circle. But everyone in my circle is everyone that has been in my life ever since I was born or 3rd grade with my close friends. Happy to have those guys and happy to have that feeling that I know I’m going to be all right.’’
As for a timetable for Rose, according to coach Tom Thibodeau, there isn’t one. The Bulls won’t play again until Thursday in Sacramento, but Rose remained day-to-day.
“We’ll just see where he is [each day],’’ Thibodeau said.
A very common theme these days.