Bulls fans yell ‘noooo’ as Derrick Rose sprains ankle vs. Cavaliers


Late in the second quarter of Chicago’s overtime loss to the Cavaliers on Friday, Derrick Rose came down awkwardly and appeared to roll his ankle, causing him to hobble away as play continued down to the other end of the floor.

Bulls fans have been traumatized by seeing their team’s best player go down with season-ending injuries on more than one occasion, so not surprisingly, there was an audible freak-out from the fans in attendance when witnessing Rose’s latest setback.

Rose came back and tried to play in the third, but was unable to use any of his signature explosiveness to get to the basket. He sat out the fourth quarter and overtime session, but was in good spirits afterward, as the injury wasn’t believed to be all that serious.

From Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times:

“Right now, I’m feeling good,’’ Rose said after the loss dropped the Bulls to 1-1. “My ankle is throbbing a little bit, but [I’m] just playing basketball.

“Go to Minnesota, try and give it a go [Saturday]. If not, we still have [79 games]. I guess it’s part of the process. I guess the gods are testing me. It’s fine. I’ll get through it.’’

Rose said X-rays were negative.

“I just sprained my ankle and had to sit out,’’ Rose said. “I’m walking around, so everyone can breathe. I hurt it in the first half, tried to give it a go in the second half, but it kind of limited me a little bit, ­shooting jump shots and wasn’t getting the bounce I wanted.’’

It remains to be seen how long Rose will be sidelined, if at all. But given his recent injury history, you can’t blame the fans in Chicago for their immediate visceral reaction.

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LeBron scores 36, Cavaliers bounce back to get overtime win over Bulls


Opening night in Cleveland was a disaster for the Cavaliers, and Friday’s follow-up in Chicago was certainly no masterpiece.

But LeBron James bounced back in a big way, and his game-high 36 points helped his team come away with a hard-fought 114-108 victory over the Bulls that required an overtime session before it was decided.

These are the two teams that are expected to meet in the Eastern Conference Finals when all is said and done, and the depth in place on each respective roster is a main reason why. On a night where starters Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters struggled offensively for Cleveland by combining to shoot just 14-of-44 from the field, Tristan Thompson turned in a huge performance that saw him finish with 16 points and 13 rebounds, 12 of which came on the offensive end of the floor — not bad from a timing perspective, with the deadline to complete a contract extension looming just an hour or so after this game was finished.

On Chicago’s side, it was the role players who were huge for the majority of the night. Derrick Rose suffered an ankle sprain that isn’t expected to linger, but was one that kept him out of action for the entire fourth quarter and overtime period. It was guys like Mike Dunleavy, Kirk Hinrich, Aaron Brooks and Tony Snell who put in important performances instead.

There’s still plenty to be worked out for the Cavaliers; the rotations were odd at times as they were on opening night, and the offensive sets continued to lack cohesiveness, with plays often breaking down after the first option had been exhausted. But it was a big road victory against what should be their staunchest opponent in the East, and that’s something that can be built upon as the team comes together.

Dominant Pau Gasol shows he may be a perfect fit for Bulls


NEW YORK — Ever since he won the MVP award back in 2011, the fortunes of the Chicago Bulls have hinged completely on the effectiveness (and availability) of Derrick Rose.

Now, he may finally have some help, thanks to the addition of Pau Gasol.

As one of the game’s most electrifying point guards continues to shake the rust off following two seasons where injuries limited him to just 10 total appearances, the Bulls saw their major free agent acquisition turn in a resurgent opening night performance, and one that should have fans in Chicago all kinds of excited about this season’s possibilities.

The Bulls crushed the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, and on a night where Rose took just seven shots, Gasol was dominant, finishing with 21 points, 11 rebounds, and played the game in an aggressive way that brought back memories of his days as an All-Star four seasons ago.

It’s early in the relationship, but Gasol is drawing rave reviews from his teammates, and appears to be a perfect fit for what this Bulls team has been so sorely lacking in recent seasons.

“Pau has just been a leader,” said Taj Gibson, who was equally dominant on opening night coming off the bench. “One thing about Pau, once you push him and try to go at him, after a while, he gets mad. And you saw he got mad late in that third quarter, and we just kept giving him the ball. We’re going to need a lot from him, our guys on the bench learn a lot from him, and it’s showing in how well we’ve been playing.”

Gasol scored 11 of his points in the third, and had everything working to perfection. He hit a 20-ft jumper from the top of the key while trailing a play and receiving a pass from Rose on a drive-and-kick. He made a sweeping hook through the lane after backing down Samuel Dalembert following a post-up on the low block. Another play saw him elude the defense in a half court set to get loose for an uncontested dunk inside, and then he took it right at Cole Aldrich to score in the restricted area, which was followed by a stare-down as he backpedaled down the floor.

It was the type of performance that we used to see regularly during those championship seasons in Los Angeles, before the Lakers marginalized him with constant trade rumors and poor head coaching hires that didn’t come close to properly utilizing his talents.

The Bulls have made their way with defense, but were near the bottom of the league in offensive efficiency last season. They’re third there now after just one game — the smallest of sample sizes — and Rose, obviously, is thrilled to have the help.

“We’re forcing it to him,” Rose said. “Just making sure he gets touches, making sure that you have to play him when he’s on the floor. And he’s a guy who can consistently hit that midrange jumpshot. So if you want to double me, or if you want to go under (the screen) and contain, making sure I don’t get into the lane, I’m going to try to go at the big and make sure that it’s a long closeout whenever you do close back out to Pau. Normally, Pau will shoot that shot, so it’s going to be an easy game for us.”

In addition to what he brings to the game, Gasol has brought a level of professionalism and experience that his teammates have welcomed with open arms. It begins on the practice floor, where he’s constantly pushing after seemingly every single play.

“We had a lot of different guys that were stepping up, but we didn’t really have any older or veteran leadership that had really been there and won a championship,” Gibson said of last season’s squad.

It was something Gasol himself noticed when considering his free agent decision.

“I just thought that I could be a great fit for them,” Gasol said. “As far as my experience, what I bring to the table, the type of game that I have. I think I can really add to what they have going on here. It’s a pretty young group, so they’re hungry. They really haven’t achieved greatness yet, and I thought it was going to be a great opportunity for me to try to contribute, and hopefully take them to that next level.”

“It was probably the most difficult decision that I’ve made in my career, in my life probably,” he said.

It’s one game, of course, and it came against a New York team that’s expected to finish the year as one of the league’s bottom-feeders. But the fit is evident, and it appears as though Gasol couldn’t possibly have made made a better choice than to sign on with these Bulls.

Bulls cruise to 24-point opening night win over Knicks


NEW YORK — Most preseason predictions had the Bulls slated in to be title contenders, while many had the Knicks pegged as a team that would struggle, while waiting to attempt to add talent in free agency next summer.

Opening night at Madison Square Garden did nothing to disprove those notions, and provided strong affirmations instead.

Behind dominant performances from Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson, and a relatively minimal contribution from Derrick Rose, Chicago cruised to a 104-80 victory after leading by as many as 35 points in the second half.

The Knicks started Shane Larkin at point guard after Jose Calderon was a late scratch with a calf injury that has been bothering him throughout the preseason. Amar’e Stoudemire also got the start, after coming off the bench exclusively for the Knicks in preseason action. Head coach Derek Fisher gave a long non-answer when asked for his reason why, but Stoudemire rewarded him for his decision early with an eight-point first quarter on 4-of-4 shooting.

New York started just fine, running the newly-installed Triangle Offense in a manner that could be described as clunky at best, but yielded decent enough results through the game’s first 10 minutes.

As soon as the reserves came in, however, the Knicks completely fell apart, while the Bulls showcased some of the depth they added this summer in taking control of the game, before running away with it entirely.

Pau Gasol looked completely rejuvenated in his first game with the Bulls, and showcased an aggressiveness and a level of skill on the offensive end of the floor that was reminiscent of his days as an All-Star in Los Angeles. Gasol finished with 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting, to go along with 11 rebounds in just 29 minutes of action.

As great as Gasol played, Taj Gibson may have been even better.

The Knicks only had Jason Smith and Quincy Acy to throw at Gibson, and neither was close to being any match. He scored 10 of his 22 points in the second period, as the Bulls reserves pushed the lead to 15 points before New York’s starters temporarily slowed the inevitable tide.

“He was the best player in training camp, the best player in the preseason games,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said of Gibson afterward. “He just goes out there and does his job. … He lets his performance speak for itself, and that’s the way it should be.”

The reserves for the Knicks were, in a word, brutal. The offense in that second quarter consisted primarily of midrange jumpers, which came either off the dribble or were forced up in isolation after only a single pass. The Triangle Offense wasn’t abandoned entirely as the game progressed, but running it appeared to become an afterthought, and multiple possessions would go by before it would occur to the unit in place to once again give it a shot.

Rose, meanwhile, looked much the same way he did while playing for Team USA this summer. His signature speed and explosiveness were evident at times, and while he finished just 3-of-7 shooting, he was able to get into the lane and to the free throw line eight times.

“He’s got to shake that rust off,” Thibodeau said of Rose. “Offensively, I thought he was attacking well, and defensively, he’s got to keep working at it. It isn’t going to happen overnight. He’s got to keep pushing.”

Rose was surprised he wasn’t needed on this night, and seemed a little disappointed he didn’t get more time to play under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden in a nationally televised contest.

“I think this is the first time I’ve ever played in a league where the first game I only played 20-something minutes,” Rose said. “I only had 13 points. I thought for sure tonight I was going to have a little time in the fourth quarter in The Garden, but the game got kind of out of hand and Thibs didn’t call us back in.”

There was no need. This Knicks team has neither the talent nor the cohesiveness to present much of a challenge to these Bulls. It was what was expected before the season began, but the strengths and weakness of both teams became all the more glaring when facing one another in a head-to-head matchup.

“We played the game the right way,” Gibson said. “Our bench really came in and played with a lot of fire. We’ve got a lot of firepower in that second unit, and we just ran with it. And once our starters got themselves going, it was a different ballgame.

“Everybody understood the matchups, and everybody understood the defensive sets that Thibs wanted us to run,” he said. “And we just flourished.”

67RIEFNS No. 67: Anthony Davis becoming a superstar


The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the offseason, It’s easy to forget how wonderful the league can be. So, I’ve assembled 67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season (67RIEFNS). They’ll be presented in no particular order.

Anthony Davis played at Kentucky. He was the No. 1 pick in the draft. He made the All-Star game last season.

But, somehow, I’m still not convinced people understand just how good he can become. I’m not sure they get how good he already is, either.

He’s probably flown under the radar for two reasons – injuries and the Pelicans’ lack of success. And that’s a shame.

In a 10-game stretch last March, after New Orleans had faded from the playoff picture, Davis averaged 29.8 points on 54.5 percent shooting, 13.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.8 blocks and 1.1 steals per game. That’s insane! But Davis got hurt again, and his season ended quietly.

I don’t expect Davis to maintain that type of production this season, but I believe it was indicative of a breakthrough. Lest you think I’m cherry-picking too small of a sample, Davis posted the highest PER of anyone 20 and under – higher than even LeBron James.

All season, Davis was excellent. By the final stages, he crossed into unreal.

Anything close to that that – whether or not the Pelicans make the playoffs in the loaded West – and people will have to acknowledge his greatness.

Eight former MVPs are still in the league. Six – LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan – will be on the wrong side of 30 by New Year’s if they’re not already. Another, Derrick Rose, has played 10 games the last two years. The eighth and reigning MVP, Kevin Durant, is out for a while.

The NBA is ready for a new superstar. It’s Davis.