Bulls staggered against Clippers without Rose


Nov 24

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Clippers coach Doc Rivers, the Maywood native and one of the league’s top coaches, says, for now, the Bulls likely have to improve from within.

But there’s no replacing Derrick Rose.

“I don’t want to say the coach’s name, but he always tells me, ‘You don’t want to learn about two through 12,’” said Rivers with a laugh. “But you will. You’ll find out some stuff. I think you always discover one guy, maybe that wasn’t playing a lot. You’ll find that guy and Tom will find that guy, whoever that is. It could be (Marquis) Teague. He’s playing, he may play more and be more comfortable. It could be someone else. I don’t know if you find them all, but you find one guy that you add to your rotation.”

It wasn’t a particularly noteworthy game for Teague Sunday–or for the Bulls as well in the Clippers pulling away after halftime–as Teague played with some uncertainty coming off the bench for Kirk Hinrich. But Teague’s likely in for the long run now.

It’s a tough transition for all the Bulls. The games keep coming, and everyone wants to know about Rose.

“We’re just going to keep playing,” Teague said before Sunday’s game. “Like we always do, keep fighting, next man up.”

“It was just hurt for him,” Teague said about learning of Rose’s surgery again. “He’s been putting in all this work, and for that to happen to him it was just real sad to see. But we know he’s going to work real hard to get through it. He’s a fighter. We know we’ve got to keep playing, keep fighting. Like I said, we all felt bad for him, but he’s going to get through it. He’s a fighter and that’s what he does, but we’ve got to keep playing.”

The Bulls did seemingly about as much as they could Sunday, at least early, against a high scoring Clippers attack led by Chris Paul with 17 assists through three quarters. The Bulls hung in, playing efficient offense early, but unable to slow the Clippers quick shooting game. The Bulls trailed 31-24 after one quarter and 65-52 at halftime even as the Clippers shot 62.5 percent in the first half.

But the Clippers opened he second half with a 9-2 run for a 20-point lead and had 100 points with more than eight minutes remaining. And we know Clippers announcer Ralph Lawlor’s famous law that first to 100 wins in the NBA. It wasn’t difficult to be correct Sunday.

“You don’t just lose a Derrick Rose or a Chris Paul and think you’re better,” said Rivers. “Of course, a lot of guys think it’s their time now. But you still lose Derrick Rose.

“The thing is you can’t change who you are,” Rivers said about Rose needing to play like he always did when he returns. “I think he’s confident. He got through the first rehab. His ACL knee is terrific, so now he has to rehab the other one. That’s the next step for him; he’ll handle that. I expect him to make a full recovery.

“It was hard,” Rivers added about his own ACL injury and surgery when he was with the Knicks. “I had to go to Pat Riley, who was the coach, and I just begged him that I didn’t want to go to the games anymore. I wanted to get away and it’s hard when you’re a player, especially like Rose. It’s tough. It really is. The rehab is brutal. But more importantly, you’re sitting there, you’re not a part of it. It’s really, just mentally, very difficult. I can’t imagine it in back-to-back years. That’s really very difficult.

“The tough part (is) because you don’t know,” said Rivers. “The unknown. I was right on the cusp, thank gosh, of the ACL, where you could actually come back and play. Previously, like Bernard King, it was over for the most part, even though he made an All-Star team after that. But it’s tough because what makes a player like a Rose or any of those guys is their confidence and when that starts getting questioned, it’s tough. I’m just happy it’s not an ACL. But we have to wait and see what actually happens when they go in. The mental part, that’s the whole key now for Derrick.”

And probably for the Bulls team as well.

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