Bulls lose to Magic as Rose injures wrist


Mar 12

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Let’s look at it this way, ever the optimist that I am: The Bulls did their job Thursday against the Orlando Magic. Hey, they held Dwight Howard to 12 points and six rebounds while forcing him into five turnovers.

Of course, there was the problem of trailing by a dozen in the first quarter when Derrick Rose was injured and left for the night, and then by as many as 32 by halftime as the rest of the players left, at least in spirit, in what would become a 111-82 Orlando victory.

The Bulls fell to 31-33 with their six straight loss and…

What! Rose hurt! Get me rewrite!

Actually, get him an MRI. Again. The Bulls should buy one of those machines for all the use they are getting this season with Joakim Noah out with plantar fasciitis, Luol Deng out with a calf strain and now Rose, at least it seems, certainly questionable for Friday’s game in Miami. And that’s if the MRI of Rose’s left wrist produces good news.

X-rays were negative, but Rose left the arena without speaking to reporters but wearing a soft cast on his wrist with some sort of electro-stim device attached.

“Derrick has a sprained wrist,” Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said afterward. “I have no idea how bad it is. He’s going to get an MRI tomorrow and see what the damage is and see how he feels.”

Asked whether Rose could play Friday, Del Negro sighed: “He had an x-ray. They didn’t tell me other than he’s going to have an MRI and he has a sprained wrist.”

Rose suffered the wrist injury in still another collison with Dwight Howard, whom Rose bumped up against last month in Chicago on a drive to the basket and took that ugly fall which injured Rose’s hip and limited him during All-Star weekend.

Once again, Rose attacked Howard even though he talked before the game about being more careful when driving into Howard. In fact, after the game Howard said he counseled Rose during All Star weekend about how to drive into big men at the basket, to stay balanced and not go off one foot and explode like Rose likes to do.

“As a big man you never try to hurt anyone coming down the lane,” said Howard, and no one felt the blow was unsportsmanlike. “Me and Derrick are cool, great player, great person. I always tell him when you come down the lane always come off two feet so that way you’ll be on balance. When you come off one all it takes is somebody’s body to hit you the wrong way and you’re going to fall. I hope there’s nothing seriously wrong with him. I never intended to hurt him. It was just the way it happened.”

But as the player who likes to call himself Superman added: “I think if you hit something that doesn’t move, you usually end up falling.”

Yes,the Bulls are falling and seemingly feeling sorry for themselves with the growing injuries and reduced roster after the deadline trades. Giving up? Not exactly, but the commitment hasn’t seemed to be there of late, especially on the defensive end. True, they lack the size and explosiveness with Noah and Tyrus Thomas not there, but the Bulls have been considerably more passive.

As they were once again as Orlando was up double digits nine minutes into the game. So Rose took it upon himself to stop the run, as he always does, and drive hard into Howard, who doesn’t move much.

Rose came down hard onto his left wrist, which is dangerous given players tend to get more seriously hurt when trying to brace themselves from a big fall. And few fall farther than Rose because few go higher.

Rose immediately began shaking his wrist. He got up slowly and shot free throws, making one, and then left the game for the night.

And that was it for the Bulls as the Magic romped in a laugher that had the national TNT broadcasters summoning up old anecdotes and story lines. I caught up with game broadcaster Reggie Miller after the game and he said they ended up talking about the Bulls/Magic playoff series in 1995. “We really were digging deep,” laughed Miller.

Yes, everyone was laughing but the Bulls.

Charles Barkley in the TNT studio kept referring to the Bulls as the Cows in them not being tough enough to be Bulls.

And though he wasn’t kidding, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy afterward said in looking at the play he thought Rose should have been called for an offensive foul.

Now, that’s really rubbing it in.

It was the ninth consecutive game the Bulls have given up at least 100 points and the second straight loss by more than 20 points and third in the last five. That is some pretty bad stuff and signs of the Q word many are loath to suggest.

Should teammates have stood up for Rose and confronted Howard? I asked Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro and several players whether the blow was intentional. None said it was. But there was a question for the second time with Rose whether Howard made a play on the ball or just a play on his little buddy, Rose, or alleged little buddy whom Howard traveled to China with last summer on a sneaker company trip. Some players even pointed out Rose going off one foot and putting himself at risk by getting so high up in the air.

“He goes so hard and jumps so high and he’s so explosive off one foot,” said Jannero Pargo. “It’s tough to keep your balance. Dwight barely hit him and he fell on his wrist. He just lost his balance in the air. The higher you jump the harder you fall.”

But this Bulls team is falling and no one seems willing to stand up and make a statement. I am not condoning violence, but someone needs to stand up to the opposition in some way for this Bulls season to still mean anything.

Will anyone?

“It’s embarrassing when you lose a game by 30 points,” said Pargo, who replaced Rose to open the second half. “We’re all NBA players, all pros. We’ve got to step up to the challenge and play. We’re just (one and one half) games out of the playoffs. It’s time now to make a decision: Are we going to stand up and fight or are we going to lie down?

“I really think this is the time to have a gut check,” said Pargo. “As a team we have to decide whether we’re going to fight or lay down. It’s a perfect opportunity for myself and J.J. (James Johnson) to step up and show them we can play. We still have a season ahead of us, 18 games left to be in the playoffs. We have to decide whether we want to play or not. I was just thinking (about a team meeting). We definitely need to get together as a team and just talk, just figure out what we want to do. It’s on us. We’re the ones on the court playing. We’ve got to do something. It takes something out of the ordinary to do something out of the ordinary. Now we need to step up and win ballgames without our main guys.”

One thing to say but another to do, eh?

So, we’ll find out.

There’s little to mention in the Bulls sixth consecutive loss, though they seemed to feel in playing the Magic basically even the second half it perhaps was the start of something.

Though, as we know, teams back off when they have 30-point leads. Heck, we’ve even seen one lose them. But that was then. It’s looking a bit like then now.

And Del Negro seems to be running out of ideas.

“C’mon, we’re a different team than we were,” Del Negro said when asked about remedies. “From our injuries to the trade and everything involved. We’re without a lot of our guys. I thought the guys in the second half battled. There’s no excuses. It is what it is. We’ve got to find a way to get healthy, weather the storm.

“But there’s no question we are a battered bunch right now trying to keep confidence up, trying to get a look at a few (new) people,” said Del Negro. “It’s very frustrating, so you’ve got to keep your head up, keep fighting. And hopefully Derrick will be all right, but we still have to get Joakim back and get everyone buying into what we were doing before the trades. And that’s not easy.”

It was a quiet, if not totally doleful Bulls locker room as the players dressed quickly to head for the trip to Miami. It would be interesting to know who hit the South Beach clubs as it was just a short flight and the team was due in not much after midnight. South Beach just gets going about then.

Johnson started for Deng, who is on the trip and getting treatment with the team, and led the Bulls with 13 points, though 11 were in the fourth quarter, which the Bulls began trailing by 28. Vince Carter, by the way, led Orlando with 23 as the Magic starters played little after halftime.

Fellow rookie Taj Gibson, playing through his own plantar fasciitis, played the most spirited with several strong plays at the basket early and ended with 12 points and nine rebounds.

“The way we came out in the second half shows a lot,” said Gibson, who is forever optimistic and positive. “We played hard. Kirk (Hinrich with a little halftime talk) got guys ready. We made a little run. It was a small thing, but those are the kinds of things you need.

“We have to get one win to try to get our morale up because in this league when you’re in a downhill slide it’s tough to get a win,” noted Gibson, already a veteran in a season Del Negro likes to describe now as three different ones given the slow start, winning month and current trades and injuries. “But when you’re winning it feels like you’re unstoppable.

“We’re still optimistic,” Gibson insisted. “We’re a game and a half out, but we play Miami twice, Charlotte twice, Milwaukee, Toronto. Everyone was drafted for a reason. We have guys that can step up. We have Kirk, Brad Miller, James, a bunch of guys. I may be sore, but we’re right in there and have to make that last push.”

Yes, it is getting late now with this the first of a four game road trip and then the Cavs at home.

“The teams we’ve been playing, Orlando, Utah, Dallas, even if we were healthy we’d have to be playing very smart, sound basketball to get wins,” said Del Negro. “We know that. We’ve done it before. We have to try to manage ourselves through this and go from there.

“You only can do so many things,” Del Negro added. “The bottom line is you have to guard people, you have to get in front of guys, you have to rebound the ball. Obviously, we’re not very deep up front. We’ve just got to try to control and tempo and weather the storm

“The guys are frustrated,” said Del Negro. “We felt we were four games over .500, but with the trade deadline, the injuries we’ve had, the schedule broke (bad). We’re taking it on the chin, but we’ve got to keep battling and hopefully we can get some cohesive foundation built with the guys once they come back, weather the storm, get our guys back and hopefully we are not too far down in the standings where we have a fighting chance at the end to play some solid basketball to get back in it.”

And that would be, as we know, only if Rose rejoins the battle.

“He wants to play,” said Del Negro. “I know he does. We’ll sit down and talk to Derrick, but let’s get the MRI and see where he’s at before we make any judgments. (He’s) sore, stiff, disappointed, upset. Hopefully the MRI will show it’s just a sprained wrist.”

Because now the season is severely sprained and not yet broken. But we’ll also know that soon.

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