Say it ain't so... (Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE)
The Bulls shot 51.3% from the field and 42.9% beyond the arc. On top of getting buckets like gods, they dominating the glass 47-38 and got 20 second chance points off of the 12 offensive rebounds when they missed to blow out the 76ers 103-91 in Game One of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at the United Center on Saturday.
Now, let's get to the real story: Derrick Rose left the game with 1:10 remaining in the game with the Bulls up by 12, which is the primary focus when looking back at this game, as Andrew Seligman does for the AP:
Rose crumbled to the ground after he drove the lane. He was going for a layup when he came to a jump-stop and seemed to change his mind, passing off to a teammate before an awkward landing.
Team medical personnel immediately rushed out and tended to Rose for several minutes as he was writhing in pain near the baseline before helping him to the locker room. TNT reported on air that he had been taken to the hospital.
Rose's injury sent a major chill through the arena. The Bulls were 18-9 without him this season, but they know they need their star if they're going to make a run at the title.
Tom Thibodeau said after the game that Rose would have an MRI, but was unsure of the extent of the injury. What we do know is that it looked kinda' bad:
[Watch the injury after the jump.]
Sixers head coach Doug Collins refused to question Thibs' decision to keep Rose in the game -- though the Bulls were up by 20 as late as the 5:49 mark of the fourth quarter. Collins said that it's common for starters to remain in the game in those situations in the playoffs. Thibs was defensive and added that the lead was swinging "the wrong way" and that his team needs to close -- implying it was the Bulls' own damn faults for not putting the Sixers away properly.
Richard Hamilton echoed Thibs' latter point in his post-game press conference.
Thibs was a hostile stoic with reporters, accusing them of judging results over decisions and -- though, I stick to criticizing his decision -- it can be justified with two days of rest before Game Two.
But none of the argumentation matters right now. The Bulls kicked ass. Rose rebounded from a 1-for-7 start to go 6-for-his-last-12 and come one rebound and one assists short of a triple-double. He finished with 23 points on 9-for-23, 3-for-6 on 3s, nine rebounds, nine assists, but five turnovers in 37:13.
The Bulls recovered to counter Philly's great ball movement, maintained active hands to kill Philly's shot clock, and pressured the 3-point line along with great paint defense. Philly was 1-for-9 on 3s in a game where they shot 39.8% from the field. Not even the Bulls' 18 turnovers could make Philly look like they had a legitimate shot to win at about any point in the final three quarters. Philly's 19 points off of those turnovers didn't prove that their defense was only their best offense, but their only offense.
The Bulls had defensive farts in the early third quarter and in the endgame, but largely finished their defense with third and fourth efforts to kill Philly's possessions with elite rebounding. The Bulls' ball movement was frantic, as was their off-ball movement.
Hamilton and Korver wreaked havoc on the wings when Deng was moved to the four against Philly's smaller lineups. Against Philly's more conventional lineups, the Bulls stopped everything and seemed to score with ease. Omer Asik and Taj Gibson was dominant in the paint to keep fresh bigs on the floor with confidence and C.J. Watson showed off some of the best pure point guard play he's shown in his career.
But none of that matters right now in the hearts and minds of NBA enthusiasts, as we fear the grandest stage of the best basketball in the world without one of its most dynamic players.
The Bulls take their 1-0 series lead into Game Two on Tuesday evening at the United Center. We'll post updates on Rose's status as we see them.
Stats via NBA.com [pdf].