Bulls and Rose both go down against Orlando


Feb 11

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The Bulls final game before the All-Star break Wednesday ended with just over nine minutes left in the first quarter with the Orlando Magic leading 9-3 on the way to a 107-87 victory.

The Bulls are holding their breath their season didn’t end at that moment.

Because Derrick Rose seemed to be gasping for air.


Just like more than 21,000 in the United Center, and Rose’s teammates, who basically seemed about as stunned and disheartened as the fans about a horrible, thumping fall Rose took after driving into Magic center Dwight Howard.

The Bulls basically reacted to Rose’s fall and departure from the game by playing like they were hurt themselves. Perhaps in sympathy for Rose they also laid down.

The Magic surged to a 41-17 first quarter lead, and then the only concern was the health of Rose, who was scheduled to be leaving Thursday to be the Bulls’ first All-Star in 12 years.

“X-rays so far were negative,” Bulls trainer Fred Tedeschi said after the game in the Bulls locker room. “I won’t say we completely ruled out a fracture, but it looks unlikely at this point. If there’s not a great deal of inflammation, I think we can be optimistic. If there are some things going on we’ll have to deal with that.”

Rose was limping pretty badly as he left the United Center before the game ended and went to the hospital for an MRI. The Bulls are expected to announce the results Thursday, and then Rose hopefully can leave for his first NBA All-Star appearance and the organization and fans can begin breathing easily again.

Take a look at that fall. Though my advice is not to.

It was one of those crashes that makes you want to look away. Imaging holding someone on their back six feet in the air and dropping them.

I knew it was the worst I’d seen with Rose, who gets bounced around a lot and quickly gets up, when he initially tried to get up and then lay back down. I’d never seen him do that, and that’s when Tedeschi, usually cautious to let players try to get up on their own first as that’s the recommended procedure, hurried out to attend to Rose, who actually made the shot after crashing into Howard and falling.

“He finished the play, which is incredible,” said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, the East All Star coach who said he had hoped to play Rose a lot because he is so impressed with Rose. “That’s what I said to my assistants. He made that because he’s so strong. He’s a little bit like LeBron (James) going to the hoop. People bounce off. Dwight’s coming to block it and he’s (Rose) looking for contact. It’s a pretty good collision. I hope he’s OK.

“I went through it with (Dwyane) Wade (as Heat coach),” said Van Gundy. “Guys like that who throw themselves at people like that unfortunately sometimes things like that happen.”

The Bulls were trailing from the tip as they were finishing six games in nine nights with three back to backs, and the Magic was still not particularly sanguine about losing here Jan. 2 to Rose’s 30 points.

“We wanted to come out and send a message because the last time we played them they beat us pretty bad and we didn’t like that,” said Howard.

Still, no one thought Howard intentionally tried to injure Rose, and Howard and Rose became friends on a sneaker company trip to China last summer and remain often in contact.

“I’m going to hit him up in a little bit to make sure he’s fine and pray for him,” Howard said as he dressed with Magic players munching on Chicago style pizzas.

After Rose got up, Howard went over to shake his hand.

“It was just his momentum,” Howard insisted. “It’s not like I caught him and threw him down. It was his momentum. He hit the man of steel. It was nothing personal.”

Though it certainly wasn’t an invitation to tea. Or even the fortress of solitude.

The Magic was pummeling the Bulls already with Howard going at Brad Miller with Joakim Noah still out and Matt Barnes with a quick three. Before the reign of jump shots and terror ended quickly, the Magic had made 11 of their first 13 shots.

“We were getting drilled,” said Kirk Hinrich. “From the beginning we were kind of out to lunch.”

And, yes, Orlando was feasting on some soft Bulls beef.

Then came the unofficial end, or as Van Gundy later noted, “They didn’t have Derrick Rose. They’re a little easier to defend. Not a little easier, a lot.”

Rashard Lewis drove by Taj Gibson. He missed and Gibson rebounded and pitched out to Rose on the left wing near midcourt and Rose turned to attack. Rose stopped as Lewis and Jameer Nelson met him above the circle and Rose pulled the ball back.

Rose then split Lewis and Nelson and was by both in a flash. Howard began to move over from the left box where he was monitoring Miller and Rose rose just in front of the basket.

You have to watch that sometime in slow motion as Rose seems to levitate and head upward like a balloon.

His feet got up to about Howard’s waist. Howard moved toward Rose. Rose hit Howard’s chest above the “Orlando” written across the front of Howard’s jersey, and Howard swiped at Rose and caught Rose on his right arm for the foul. The contact seemed to throw Rose off balance and he was unable to brace himself and Rose fell straight down as if he’s been dropped on his back.


Rose literally hit the floor and bounced. He grabbed his side as he lay face down. He tried to push himself up with his right hand, but then gave up. The Bulls officially listed the injury as a bruised right hip. It was then you knew this was no ordinary fall. Rose was grimacing and then laid his head on top of his hands like he was going to sleep and lay there.

Rose finally got himself up after about two minutes down and staggered off the floor, his game night essentially over. He had to shoot the free throw to return to the game, but that was academic. Rose did, made it and then the Bulls fouled intentionally to get Rose out.

Rose went for x-rays in the United Center and the doctors couldn’t spot more severe damage, but sent Rose to the hospital as a precaution.

Del Negro was being optimistic, though he probably had to be with Noah still out with plantar fasciitis, Gibson also with plantar fasciitis and Del Negro saying the Bulls had asked Gibson play limited time in the All-Star rookie/sophomore game as a result, and Miller with his own back and knee ailments.

“The MRI is more precautionary, I think,” said Del Negro. “So we’ll see. I think he’ll be fine. It didn’t look anything (intentional), but he kind of lost his balance when Dwight bumped into him. Kind of fell on his side, tailbone. They wear those (protective) pads. I think everything will be fine. It was a good aggressive move and it was unfortunate the way he fell. I don’t think there was anything intended there at all. Just trying to block the shot.

“Let’s see what the MRI says,” said Del Negro. “Let’s see how much discomfort, how stiff he is. Usually when it’s a hip or tail bone it’s depending on how deep the bruise is. Usually, those things tend to loosen up rapidly, and luckily, we do have the All-Star break. I just hope he’s all right to participate because he deserves it and I want him to enjoy himself.”

The Bulls are trying to breathe a bit easier and pleased it wasn’t worse, at least for now.

“Our first reaction was hoping it wasn’t a wrist or hand because a lot of times when you fall like that you stick out your wrist or hand and that’s how you really get hurt,” said Hinrich, who has missed months with wrist and hand injuries.

There is never a good time for your best player to be hurt, but the Bulls have five days off with All Star break. But it was to be one of the big weekends of his life with Rose making the All Star team.

My guess is if he’s not seriously hurt he’ll try to play Sunday and would take a pass on defending his title in the Saturday skills challenge competition. Rose already was excused from the rookie/sophomore game because he was scheduled to compete in so many events.

It looked like an exciting day for Rose as earlier in the day he was officially selected among 27 players to try out for 12 spots on the USA Basketball team for the 2010 World Championships and eventually the 2012 Olympics. Though there always are injuries and players pulling out for personal reasons, Rose is more likely being brought into the USA program for the 2014 World Championships and 2016 Olympics.

USA Basketball officials have said players from the 2008 Olympic team would have priority if they wanted to return, and point guards Chris Paul and Deron Williams played in 2008 and will be back. The committee also is said to be leaning toward having Chauncey Billups as the veteran point guard to replace Jason Kidd. Still, there will be tryouts in Las Vegas next summer, and the Bulls presented Rose with a USA jersey before the game and Rose gave a pregame thanks to the fans for their support.

And then, Down Goes Rose! Down Goes Rose!

It was the worst of times for Rose and the worst news for the Bulls, who thus went onto the break 25-26, a game ahead of ninth place Milwaukee for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

That would be just a fantasy without Rose and Noah, and next week is the trading deadline with the Bulls still involved in talks with several teams.

This one never was a contest as the closest the Bulls got after the first quarter was 18, and then only for a few seconds as the Magic kept the lead in the 20’s virtually all game. Luol Deng led the Bulls with 23 points. But the starters didn’t stay long and the reserves actually scored more than the starters, led by Tyrus Thomas’ 16 points.

The only Orlando starter to play in the fourth quarter was Lewis, and just for two minutes. Howard had 18 points and 14 rebounds in 25 minutes to lead Orlando with seven in double figures.

Howard insisted it was just basketball.

No flagrant foul was called and it was a veteran crew led by Joey Crawford.

“Me and Derrick are good friends,” said Howard. “I’d never do anything to hurt him. We went to China and got a good chance to develop our relationship. We had great talks. I’m happy with his progress this season and wish him the best.

It feels bad,” said Howard. “In the game of basketball there are hard fouls and times when people hit the ground pretty hard and there’s always a risk of any kind of injury. Hopefully he’s OK. It was never my intention to hurt him or anybody. It’s my job to protect the basket.”

Now the Bulls hope to protect what most now consider the franchise.

“He was wearing the Adidas padded shorts and I think that soaked up a lot of the blow,” said Tedeschi. “So hopefully it will turn out not as bad as it could have been. When he didn’t get up and we had the time out he was pretty shook. It was a pretty bad fall. Derrick never says a whole lot in the first place. He didn’t say much.”

Like everyone else, he seemed to just be holding his breath.

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