PORTLAND – Some memories haven’t faded away very easily.
Even worse, more bad memories were made.
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 at the Moda Center, as he tore his meniscus and had a second season-ending knee surgery since the 2012 playoffs.
Not only was it a bad return, evident by the 105-87 blowout loss, but one that now cost them Taj Gibson, who left the game in the third quarter with a sprained left ankle.
Coincidentally, it was in the third quarter last year when Rose’s 2013-14 season ended just 10 games into it.
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. Hinrich, however, said it 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. Neither had any sort of answer for Portland point guard Damian Lillard. The All-Star torched the Bulls for 21 points on 7-for-9 shooting, but also had nine assists and six rebounds in 26 minutes of work. He left the game an astounding plus-40 in the plus/minus category.
In losing Gibson, the Bulls will head to Utah for Monday’s game possibly down two point guards and two of their three best bigs.
As far as a timetable for any one of them to return, Thibodeau called them all “day-to-day.’’
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.
“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.’’