Looks like the news from the weekend that Rose has been battling back issues deserves a little more attention than I gave it this morning.
Here's what he said post-game Saturday:
Derrick Rose went off for 15 points in the first quarter of Saturday night's 113-90 win over the Milwaukee Bucks and then spent most of the second quarter lying on his back, wincing at times, while assistant trainer Jeff Tanaka worked him over on the far end of the bench.
What was the problem?
"My back tends to get tight a little bit," Rose said. "That's why my shots were kind of flat. But I know after tonight and the day off [Sunday], I'll get my back worked on and that should be out the way quick."
Rose isn't sure when exactly the back issue flared up, but he is confident that he can control it.
"It just got tight on me and that can easily go away," he said.
After that day off (though there was mention of a practice, so maybe it wasn't a day off at all), Rose only lasted 11 minutes before exiting with back issues, and didn't play the entire second half.
Back injuries are usually trickier to diagnose than most, so combining that with Bulls subterfuge, who really knows what we'll be told. For what it's worth, Rose post-game was 'being positive', though he also mentioned it is due to his foot/leg issues.
As for the rest of the Bulls, they actually got a taste of Derrick Rose's absence early through foul trouble, as Derrick's quick two fouls were the only thing that went wrong in an 11 of 12 start from the field, leading to a 35-14 lead after the first quarter that was never really threatened (outside of the realm that is Thibodeau's head). The Bulls offense absolutely toyed with them: even with Avery Johnson getting his team to play hard, the Bulls would use the Nets aggression against them through their passing and cutting. When the Nets would back off to a zone, the Bulls would either shoot or board (or both) their way out of it.
The Nets were a borderline playoff contender even when fully healthy, and for Monday night they were missing a lot of players. So they were in deep trouble, from the outset but had to be really scared of their chances when seeing Keith Bogans start and scoring 6 points. (Zing!)
Carlos Boozer was dominant inside (!) and out, even getting to the line 6 times. The 3-pointers were falling all night, 9-15, and while some of it was charmed, (Ronnie Brewer's second-half off-balance shot from way-deep, for one) a lot of it was just perfect offense both in the half-court and outworking New Jersey in transition. The Bulls finished with 29 assists on 40 field goals, and it was as effortless and wonderful to see as it looks on paper.
It was a Luol Deng type of game, really, and not surprising that he had 13 points in that first quarter, continuing to look really good in his return from injury. He finished with 19, after resting most of the second half with the Bulls more-than-comfortably ahead. Just kidding! He played all but 3 minutes in that half. Hey, that's Thibsball, and part of it is getting to see so many effort-fueled blowouts in the first place. But the really easy week continues with visits to New Orleans and Charlotte, so maybe Derrick and the trainers can 'think negative' to get that back right with real rest.