DENVER – When Derrick Rose didn’t answer the bell for the second half of Tuesday night’s eventual 114-109 loss to the Denver Nuggets, initial word from the Bulls was “tightness in the left hamstring.’’
OK, another day, another Rose injury.
It wasn’t until the curtain was pulled down after the game, however, that some serious questions now have to be raised about where the former 2011 MVP actually is on his road to recovery.
According to both coach Tom Thibodeau and Rose, after playing in Utah Monday night, the speed and direction of the game with the Nuggets was basically overwhelming the All-Star point guard. After watching Rose struggle on both sides of the floor, especially defensively, Thibodeau pulled the plug on his night.
That’s right, he benched Rose.
“It was really nothing that happened, other than I didn’t really want to take any chances with him,’’ Thibodeau said. “The way the game was going, the way we were going, I just felt at that point I wanted to go a different way.
“He didn’t re-injure himself or anything like that.’’
Thibodeau was again asked if it was more about what he was seeing – or wasn’t seeing – from Rose, and said, “I just didn’t want to take a chance, so we have a couple days now, regroup, and the way they were playing, the way we were playing, I wanted to see if we could change it with a different type of ball pressure.’’
What also came up was if Rose wasn’t injured, why was the face of the franchise not even on the bench in the second half to pull for his teammates? After all, the Bulls were already without Joakim Noah (left knee, left eye) and Taj Gibson (left ankle).
“Just to get treatment, you know, I just thought it was better for him to be in there,’’ Thibodeau said. “I talked to him at the half, and I just said, ‘Look, I think the smart thing right now is for you not to go,’’ and he was fine.’’
So the Rose season now looks like this: Of the 15 regular-season games the 9-6 Bulls have played, Rose has started seven of them and only finished four. A bigger concern is he is yet to finish two games consecutively.
Thibodeau keeps insisting that Rose needs to “string some games together,’’ in order to “take off,’’ but that doesn’t appear to be happening in the immediate future.
As far as Tuesday, Rose confirmed everything his coach said.
“Just tired on both ends of the floor,’’ Rose said. “Offensively, I felt like I couldn’t get to where I wanted to go, and defensively, just the speed of the game, just wasn’t ready for it. Fatigue-wise and just trying to be smart.
“It wasn’t anything like I’m limping or I pulled it again or anything. It wasn’t any of that. It’s just that I wasn’t moving the way I wanted to when I was on the floor, so I pushed through it. I wasn’t able to effect the game the way I wanted to, so came in here, talked to Thibs, and we both agreed on sitting out.’’
Rose also admitted that all the setbacks have humbled him.
“Very humbling, but I just know my destiny is big,’’ Rose said. “It’s putting me through a lot right now. For some reason, I don’t know, who knows?’’