LeBron James saw his altercation with Nazr Mohammed the same way many of us did. LeBron, via Tim Bontemps of the New York Post:
“If I get kicked out and Nazr Mohammed gets kicked out at the same time, who wins?”
LeBron is obviously right. If both players had been ejected, that would have played into the Bulls’ favor.
But only Mohammed was ejected, and that hurt Chicago, which was forced to adjust its rotation without its backup center.
Joakim Noah averaged 35:31 of playing time in the series’ first two games. With Mohammed gone for most of Game 3, Noah played 42:22 last night – an extra 6:51.
That might just be too much for him.
In Noah’s final 6:51 of play, the Bulls were outscored by 12 points in what ended as a 10-point loss.
In that span Noah committed four fouls, and though one was intentional late, the other three came from poor, sloppy decisions to pursue rebounds that were already going to the Heat. Noah also grabbed only one rebound in that time and seemed a half step slow to hit the right spots defensively.
By no means was Noah bad – he made both his shots – but he wasn’t at quite the level he’d been earlier in the series.
The Bulls have been slightly better both offensively and defensively in this series with Mohammed on the court. He played just 11:26 per game in the first two contests, but those backup minutes were enough to rest Noah.
A few extra minutes from Mohammed and a little more rest for Noah probably wouldn’t have given the Bulls a win last night. But it might have.
Preseason is only just getting underway and there’s already a potentially serious injury to report. In the game between the Hornets and Magic on Saturday night, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was taken to the locker room after suffering a right shoulder injury. The Hornets announced that he was then taken to an Orlando-area hospital for follow-up x-rays:
We likely won’t know more about the extent of his injury until tomorrow, but if it was serious, that would be a major loss for the Hornets. Kidd-Gilchrist is their best perimeter defender and an important piece if they hope to compete for a playoff spot this year.
CHICAGO — Derrick Rose is nearing a return to practice with the Bulls. After undergoing surgery on Wednesday to repair a fractured left orbital suffered in practice on Tuesday, Rose’s recovery is going as expected and he’s expected to rejoin the team on Wednesday.
“The follow-up [exam] went very well,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said after practice on Saturday. “They’ve advised him to continue to let that site heal, and they think the best way for him to do that is to stay at home at this time. We plan on him being back on Wednesday morning.”
Rose won’t be able to participate in practice for another week after that — Hoiberg said the previously announced two-week timetable for returning to basketball activities remains on schedule — but with a radically different offense, there’s a lot to learn, and just being around the team to watch practices and learn the new play sets is important.
“We’re going to actually get over there and watch some film with him today,” Hoiberg said. “Because again, like we talked about [Friday], we’ve added new sets, new things, so we’ll get him caught up by a couple of coaches going over and seeing him at his house.”
The two-week timetable puts Rose’s return to basketball activity around next Wednesday, October 14. From there, it will be a matter of getting him back into game shape before Hoiberg is comfortable playing him in games.
Hoiberg said earlier this week that he is optimistic Rose will be able to play when the Bulls kick off the regular season at home on October 27 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.