Bulls

With back pain continuing, Rose will see a specialist

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With back pain continuing, Rose will see a specialist

BOSTON When it first occurred, Derrick Roses lower back spasms were a mild concern, but not something viewed as a long-term situation. Now, its a serious issue.

Its been going on for a couple of games. It started first time I remember it happening was in high school but college, I didnt have it. First couple of years, I didnt have it. Just all of a sudden, it just happened now and hopefully tomorrow, meet with some people and try to figure something out, a downcast Rose said before Sundays contest against the Celtics, which he sat out of. It was the whole trip, but I just played through it. The more I played through it, it tended to get worse after every game. At the time, I was really worried about it, but just tried to stay positive and hopefully Ill be all right.

I dont know the diagnosis. I dont know what to call it, but I just know my back is not right, continued the Eastern Conference All-Star starter, who was seen being stretched out on the sideline during the second game of the Bulls nine-game road trip, in Washington. I dont remember when it started. It just came from out of nowhere, man. Thats the scary thing about it.

Throughout this whole trip, its been bothering me. If you see me during the game or whenever Im out of the game, Im always getting stretched and Im usually not getting stretched at all, unless its before the game. It was getting tight then, but I was able to play through it and it was getting worse the longer I was playing.

Rose will see a specialist Monday when the Bulls return to Chicago, but wouldnt speculate on whether hed play in the teams next game, Tuesday against Sacramento at the United Center.

Probably go see some people tomorrow, have them look at it. But I dont know yet, he said. I cant say Im going to be out. If I feel good tomorrow, Im definitely going to play then, but I dont know yet.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, who started C.J. Watson in Roses place, indicated that the organization would be cautious with Rose.

Its not cleared up as much as we would like right now. He still has a little bit of stiffness, so we decided its better to sit him out of this one, he said. Once we get back home, well have a chance to go see a specialist and well go from there.

Well, youre always concerned. Its something that hes had before. He had it when he was in high school, so were hopeful it gets cleared up shortly, but we want to make sure.

Backs are tricky, so thats why hes going to see a specialist tomorrow, he added. Well, theyre always looking at players. We feel real good about C.J. and John Lucas has played extremely well for us, so were confident in him and of course, we have Ronnie, who can go to the point as well. If we act, fine. If not, were good with what we have.

Rose said the injury has been increasingly painful since his last game, Wednesday in New Orleans.

I definitely felt it those games and I thought it was something that would easily go away, but its just been lingering on, he said. Its killing me right now, not being able to play or when I do play, my minutes are definitely down. Not being healthy, its getting to me, especially this game. Just got to stay positive and hope for the best.

I really couldnt move out there, but we won the game against the Hornets. Thats all that matters to me. If Im out there, just try to do anything to make us win, Rose added. I could barely walk. Hopefully I get treatment and it goes away or calms down. Then, Ill be able to play. But if not, take my time.

Rose also detailed the decision-making process as to whether he plays.

Usually, before the game. It goes back and forth, but its really my decision. If I feel good nobody can tell me how I feel but myself so I feel good, Im going to try to go. But during the game, if its hurting or were up, weve got a big lead or something, I can definitely sit out. Now, its just hurting a little bit more, said the reigning league MVP, who has played through injuries in the past. Not being able to move, its a whole other thing.

Its usually up to me if I want to play. If I feel good the morning I wake up or after I get done shooting, or warming up, Ill be able to play, but if not, Ill definitely let them know, but if not, Ill be able to sit down, continued Rose, who has been receiving constant treatment. Its just not going down yet. Ive got to be able to move, get up without hurting, be myself.

Right when I feel theres no pain there anymore, thats when Ill be ready.

Rose wouldnt speculate if he would participate in the Feb. 26 All-Star Game in Orlando.

Thats too far to really think about that. I havent thought about it. It could be tomorrow, where I wake up and it feels good. I remember in high school, I didnt get any treatment or anything. I just knew that I took a couple days off and I was able to play downstate and I didnt feel it. Hopefully its the same thing, said Rose.

While Rose was crestfallen about missing the final game of the Bulls long road swing, he was confident that his teammates could make up for his absence.

I think everybody is definitely important on this team. We have people on this team that dont think that theyre bigger than this team or bigger than this organization. The thing is, we have a deep team. If one of us goes out, the other guy comes in and does the job and thats what makes us a special team, I think. I know that if Im not playing, I dont have to worry about anything because we have C.J. and J. Luke that come in and play a good game, and they play under pressure well. Im not worried about it. I know that the team is not. I know that we should be prepared tonight and I know that when someones down, someone comes up and plays big, he explained. Thats whats really killing me right now, knowing that Im missing this many games. Its killing me not to be out there, but as long as were winning games, Im happy.

The injury doesnt bother me because Im so young, but its my first time missing this many games, period in life, period. It hurts, not being to be out there with my team. I was a guy that was always on the court or if I was injured, miss a game or two and then Id be back, but to miss this many games and knowing that were playing great dont get me wrong, Im loving that were winningbut to not be out there, it hurts, he continued. I think I conditioned myself well, prepared myself well for this season. I wouldnt say its too much the season. I think its just something that just happened. I didnt have any big falls on my back or anything. Its just something that I woke up and my back was tight. Just cant really get rid of it right now.

Bulls announce substitute broadcasters for first five Neil Funk-less games

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USA TODAY

Bulls announce substitute broadcasters for first five Neil Funk-less games

If you haven't heard, Neil Funk is cutting 20 road games from his 2018-19 Bulls' play-by-play schedule.

Friday, the Bulls announced that Adam Amin, Andy Demetra and Kyle Draper will fill in for Funk for the first five of those games.

Amin, a play-by-play commentator for ESPN, will games on Oct. 22 against the Mavericks and Nov. 14 against the Celtics. He grew up in Addison, resides in Chicago and also does play-by-play for Bears preseason games.

Demetra is from Oak Brook and currently is the play-by-play broadcaster for Georgia Tech basketball and football. He will call games on Oct. 26 against the Hornets and Oct. 27 against the Hawks. He has previous play-by-play experience with the SEC Network, Pac-12 Network and Fox Sports South.

Draper will call the Bulls' Nov. 7 game against the Pelicans. He is the Celtics' pregame and postgame host for NBC Sports Boston and an occasional play-by-play annoucer and sideline reporter for the Celtics.

The Bulls said they will continue providing updates on substitute broadcasters as they are scheduled.

Pistons have the look of a playoff team in wide open East

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USA TODAY

Pistons have the look of a playoff team in wide open East

Finishing 9th in the Eastern Conference last season cost Stan Van Gundy his job as Pistons head coach and President of Basketball Operations. Van Gundy was replaced on the bench by 2017-18 Coach of the Year Dwane Casey, who was fired after the Raptors were swept by Cleveland in the conference semi-finals.

Casey’s job in Detroit is to find a way to develop the young players on the roster while getting the team to the playoffs. He has a pair of All-Star caliber players in the front court, Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, along with highly-paid, erratic point guard Reggie Jackson.

Griffin has battled injuries in recent seasons, but Van Gundy decided to roll the dice at mid-season a year ago by trading Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley AND a 1st round pick to the Clippers for the former slam dunk champion in a desperate bid to save his job. The trade didn’t work out for Van Gundy, but it’s possible Griffin could enjoy a resurgence in Detroit this season.

The 29-year-old power forward scored 26 points, pulled down eight rebounds and dished out six assists in the Pistons’ 103-100 win over Brooklyn on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Drummond had a monster game with 24 points and 20 rebounds. As Bulls fans know all too well, Drummond has made the 20 rebound game commonplace when facing Fred Hoiberg’s squad in recent years.

As for Jackson, a severely sprained right ankle limited him to just 45 games last season, probably costing Detroit a chance to make the playoffs. The 8th year pro is lightning quick, with the ability to disrupt defenses by getting into the paint and challenging bigger defenders at the rim. Jackson scored 19 points in the season opener against Brooklyn, and he’ll be a problem for the Bulls Saturday night, especially if Kris Dunn is unavailable.

Casey is still trying to figure out how to use the rest of the roster Van Gundy built, with recent 1st round pick Henry Ellenson and former rotation player Jon Leuer getting DNP-CD’s against the Nets. Meanwhile, two other expected rotation players, small forward Stanley Johnson and swingman Reggie Bullock missed the opener because of injuries.

That left second year guard Luke Kennard and 2018 2nd round draft pick Bruce Brown as the other starters in game one, something that’s unlikely to continue once everyone’s healthy.

So, how do the Bulls even their record at 1-1 on Saturday? Here are my three keys:

1. Keep Drummond and Griffin off the offensive boards. This is much easier said than done. Drummond in particular is relentless going after missed shots, and his bulk will cause problems for 19 year old rookie Wendell Carter Jr. Hoiberg hinted at possible line-up changes on Friday morning, which could include starting veteran Robin Lopez at center to battle Drummond inside. Griffin has turned into more of a jump shooter now and doesn’t have the multiple jump capability that characterized his early seasons in the NBA, but he’s still a threat to create 2nd shot opportunities.

2. Close out on three-point shooters. Of all the defensive issues for the Bulls in Philadelphia on Thursday, losing touch with shooters in transition was probably the most troublesome. Robert Covington seemed to be open at the three-point line throughout the game, and Bulls players struggled to handle cross-match situations. Kennard had one of the best games of his rookie season against the Bulls, and Jackson, Ish Smith and Langston Galloway are all capable of heating up from long distance.

3. Attack Detroit’s interior defense. The Bulls were at their best offensively in the first quarter against Philadelphia when they drove to the basket to set up easy scoring chances. Zach LaVine was getting to the rim at will in scoring 15 of his 30 points in the opening 12 minutes, and his penetration also set up Bobby Portis for open looks from the three-point line. Hopefully, Dunn will return to stabilize the point guard position and give the Bulls' first unit another shot creator so they can sustain their pace and scoring potential over four quarters.

Saturday’s home opener is definitely winnable against a Detroit team still finding its way under a new coaching staff. Better effort and attention to detail on the defensive end along with a fast-paced, drive and kick offensive attack should make for an exciting opening night at the United Center.

Make sure to join Kendall Gill, Will Perdue, Kelly Crull and me for a special one hour edition of Bulls Pre-Game Live at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago and the new My Teams app, followed by the play by play call with Neil Funk and Stacey King at 7 p.m. And, stay tuned after the final buzzer for reaction and analysis on an expanded edition of Bulls Postgame Live.