PORTLAND – Some memories aren’t going away very easily.
Derrick Rose and the Bulls returned to the scene of the crime on Friday, almost a year to the day that the All-Star point guard saw “The Return 2.0’’ come to an abrupt ending, as he tore his meniscus and had a second season-ending knee surgery since the 2012 playoffs.
It was a game in Portland, just 10 games into the 2013-14 season, when Rose pulled up limp in the third quarter, went to the locker room, and found out the following day that his year was over.
Obviously, still a bad memory the 2011 league MVP didn’t want to revisit, refusing to talk to the media before the game with the Trail Blazers.
And one that very few of his teammates wanted to even discuss.
“I don’t want to talk about that, don’t even go there,’’ center Joakim Noah said, when asked about it.
The topic which couldn’t be avoided, however, was the Bulls once again short-handed, as Rose (left hamstring) missed his fourth game with the injury and the eighth game of the season with injuries.
“If a guy is injured, he should sit,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said of Rose playing in only five of the 13 games so far. “If a guy is hurting, he should play. It’s really that simple. Right now, Derrick is not ready to go. He’s injured. That’s where I stand on it. The guy has had two major injuries. If he needs time, we’re going to give him time.’’
But Rose wasn’t alone.
Pau Gasol missed his third consecutive game with a left calf injury, while Kirk Hinrich was out with what the team called a chest contusion, but Hinrich said was bruised ribs.
“Yeah, very sore and just one of those things where I got banged up pretty good last night and I didn’t have enough time to recover,’’ Hinrich said. “I’ve never had broken ribs. But it hurts to take deep breaths. Any type of just movement in itself. Its’ hard to even posture up straight. I hope I get better soon.’’
So does his coach.
Down two point guards, that left the duties in the hands of Aaron Brooks and seldom-used E’Twaun Moore. Moore has played the point in practice and scrimmages, so Thibodeau was confident in his ability. Jimmy Butler was another option, but one Thibodeau didn’t seem to love.
As for a timetable of when this team can finally get healthy? Good luck getting an answer on that.
The Bulls will have the weekend of this Circus Trip to heal up, off until Monday when they face Utah. But it’s another back-to-back, off to Denver the following day, before several more days off to recover.
Gasol seems to be the one on the quickest track back, while Hinrich’s injury was more about pain tolerance. With Rose, that remained the great unknown.
Rose has already made it very clear that he will not return until he feels 100 percent, especially with the hamstring being the problem.
“There’s three things I think you absolutely need to be successful,’’ Thibodeau said. “I think you need great conditioning. I think you need mental toughness. And you need discipline. If you short-cut any of those areas you’re going to be susceptible to injury.’’