It was a case of somewhat bad news and then encouraging news for the Bulls on the injury front with their backcourt.
Derrick Rose will miss Saturday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers, as he still hasn’t recovered from the soreness in his right hamstring, but the MRI on Jimmy Butler showed significant progress from his left knee strain and he’ll start ramping up basketball activities in short order.
Rose was listed as questionable and Fred Hoiberg revealed Rose would miss his third straight game, but said he’s feeling better and looking better physically than he did since the soreness appeared early this week.
“Still sore, still sore,” Hoiberg said. “He looks better, better than he’s looked the last couple days. He’ll sit tonight.”
It’ll be Rose’s 10th missed game of the season and his longest stretch of missed time since missing three straight in late December and early January. Saturday morning, Hoiberg worked Rose out to gauge his progress.
“He wasn’t moving around great, better than last couple days but he still had a pretty good limp,” Hoiberg said. “We wanted to push him and test it, so we did full-court conditioning. A lot of shooting drills. He got through a lot of it, but he got pretty sore he still wasn’t able to explode off that leg.”
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Hoiberg defended Rose before Friday night’s game in Atlanta, when he was questioned about Rose being cautious considering his overall health and perhaps not pushing through injuries in the regular season.
“Look, I trust Derrick. I had a one-on-one talk with him before he came into my office before the last game, before we played Washington, and he talked about the pain that he had,” Hoiberg said Friday night. “He talked about, you know, not being able to play his game, being cautious out there, and that’s when I think when you’re not going full speed and you’re thinking, is when major, serious injuries happen. So I trust Derrick. I know he wants to play, I know he wants to be out there. His teammates want him out there. But at this time with his leg feeling the way it is, we all feel it’s best that he doesn’t play.’’
With Butler, the Bulls can at least be optimistic about him returning to full form at some point in the near future, and now it’s about working himself back into basketball shape and exploding off his left leg — which gave out in Denver on their West Coast swing early in February.
“Looked good, looked good,” Hoiberg said. “The swelling is significantly down, so now it’s a matter of Jimmy getting out there, getting his timing, getting his conditioning and getting comfortable. He still hasn’t exploded off that leg.”
Calling it a knee strain was a pretty wide-ranging term, as the multiple MRIs made it seem more like a tear than a strain — though both terms would technically be correct.
Whatever the Bulls wanted to see as far as recovery, they liked and now they can begin planning on bringing their All-Star guard back into the fold.
“The big thing is making sure the swelling was down, looking at the hamstring tendon, looking at the overall structure of the knee,” Hoiberg said. “It was consistent with what they were looking for, what they wanted to see. Now it’s about getting his timing back.”