Bulls

Derrick Rose injures knee in Bulls loss to Bucks

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Derrick Rose injures knee in Bulls loss to Bucks

MILWAUKEE-- A few days ago, the Bulls’ biggest problem was they weren’t the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Twenty-four hours ago, the Bulls’ biggest problem was their lack of communication and subsequent slippage on defense, worrying about two straight losses turning to three.

After Tuesday, though, their biggest problem has become the health of Derrick Rose, who could only manage a few possessions into the second half of their 106-101 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, as he exited with left patella tendinitis.

Rose played 21 minutes and had a good start before missing a few layups in the second quarter, finishing with nine points and three assists, but appeared to get his left knee worked on by trainer Jeff Tanaka at the half.

“I felt something with my left knee, like jumper’s knee or something,” Rose said afterward. “Just didn’t feel right when I was out there. Just gotta be cautious with my body.”

Rose missed three games recently with a hamstring injury but emerged to continue some of his best basketball of the season in the games he did participate in, before Tuesday’s apparent setback. He admitted some frustration with the injury, although he said he doesn’t believe he’ll miss any time.

[WATCH: Catch a full replay of tonight's game right here]

“Yeah, when you wanna continue to play and play consistent games,” Rose said. “The reality is, I felt something and all I can do is pay attention to it and listen to my body.”

At the start of the fourth quarter, Rose began riding a stationary bike on the sidelines near the Bulls’ bench and returned with 5:49 left but couldn’t move with any fluidity, removing himself with 3:25 left and the game tied at 93.

“It just felt weird out there,” Rose said. “It didn’t loosen up, tried to get out there a second time, still didn’t do anything. Really wasn’t any need for me to be in the game like that. Wasn’t able to move around like I wanted to.”

The Bulls seemed intent on ending their short losing streak to start things, but the inconsistency caught up with them, highlighted by Rose’s injury.

As the Bulls’ lead dwindled to start the third, Rose hobbled to the bench and tried walking off the injury on the sidelines as Fred Hoiberg called timeout to stop the bleeding.

The problems snowballed from there, as the Bucks’ speed took full advantage of the Bulls’ carelessness, forcing three turnovers in a 40-second span.

After falling behind by nine, the Bulls actually came back to take a five-point lead behind contributions from Nikola Mirotic and surprisingly, Tony Snell, who scored 17.

But they could only hold off the Bucks for so long, and it led to their demise.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

“I thought our energy out of the gate was great,” Hoiberg said. “Then coming out in the third, we let them back in it. They got a big lead on us and we fought back. We talk about the consistency, that’s what we gotta do.”

Greg Monroe gave the Bucks a one-point lead with a 3-point play and Khris Middleton followed it right up with a corner triple of his own, giving the Bucks a 99-95 lead. After a Jimmy Butler turnover, his fourth of the night and 17th for the Bulls, their offense seemed to continue trending downward as it had done from the first quarter on, noticeably with Rose on the bench.

“We turned the ball over, they got in the open floor and got a lot of easy baskets,” Butler said. “Trying to thread the needle (on passes), especially me. Trying to do too much instead of making the simple play.”

Butler missed the front end of three free throws with the Bulls trailing by four, and had a front row seat when Middleton, a swingman who’s been on fire recently, nailed a turnaround jumper with 16.7 seconds left to make it a two-possession game

[WATCH: Rose discusses knee injury in Tuesday's loss]

It didn’t matter they outrebounded the Bucks by a sizeable margin (57-40), considering the Bucks only turned the ball over five times and their long-armed athletic wingman Giannis Antetokounmpo gave the Bulls fits all over the floor, forcing turnovers and scoring in transition. The third year forward led the Bucks with 27 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in 32 minutes. Middelton scored 16 with nine assists and six rebounds while Monroe scored 15 with 11 rebounds.

Butler led the Bulls with 30, eight rebounds and six assists, but he left more than a few plays on the board when it counted most.

And now the Bulls are left wondering about their point guard’s immediate future.

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Anyone who lived through the Michael Jordan Bulls remembers those games when he was putting up tons of points, but the Bulls were still struggling overall.

Steve Kerr referenced one of those games to give advice to Kevin Durant during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The TNT broadcast caught the conversation and aired it late in the third quarter.

"When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game," Kerr began the story. "He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren't getting anything going. Phil Jackson said 'Who's open?' He said, 'John Paxson.'"

Paxson scored 10 of 12 points for the Bulls during a fourth quarter run in Game 5 of the 1991 NBA Finals, the series clincher, and famously hit the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to clinch that series. Kerr, who later hit his own championship-winning shot on an assist from Jordan in 1997, was trying to get to get his teammates involved.

"I want to trust your teammates early," Kerr said. "What you're doing is you're getting to the rim and then you're trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?"

Watch the video above to see the interaction.

Durant scored 29 points in Game 5 to lead the Warriors, but Houston took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander stock is on the rise; just how high will he climb?

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USA TODAY

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander stock is on the rise; just how high will he climb?

John Calipari's 2017 recruiting class featured five McDonald's All-Americans and Hamidou Diallo, a former five-star recruit who nearly jumped to the NBA the previous year. It also included a lanky 6-foot-6 point guard named Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. And for the first part of the 2017-18 season, the Toronto native who played his final two high school years in Tennessee, appeared to be a nice fit off the bench for Calipari.

But something flipped. Gilgeous-Alexander was inserted into the starting lineup for good on January 9 and never looked back. He played his best basketball beginning in late February to the end of the season, a span of 10 games against eight NCAA Tournament opponents. In those games Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 19.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.7 assists. He shot 51 percent from the field, 50 percent from deep and 84 percent from the free throw line, and added 1.4 steals in nearly 38 minutes per game for good measure. He was one of the best players in the country, and on a team with five McDonald's All-Americans, he was Calipari's best freshman.

"I knew with how hard I worked that anything was possible," SGA said at last week's NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. "It was just a matter of time before it started clicking and I started to get it rolling."

That stretch included a 17-point, 10-assist double-double against Ole Miss, a 29-point showing against Tennessee in the SEC Tournament, and 27 more points in the second round of the NCAA Tournament against Buffalo. Even in his worst game of the stretch, a 15-point effort against Kansas State in the Tournament, he made up for 2 of 10 shooting by getting to the free throw line 12, converting 11 of them.

It made his decision to make the jump to the NBA an easy one - that, and another loaded Calipari recruiting class incoming. He stands taller than just about any other point guard in the class and might have as good a jump shot as any. He's adept at getting to the rim, averaging 4.7 free throw attempts per game (that number jumped to 5.6 after he became a starter, and 7.5 in those final 10 games of the season. He isn't the quickest guard in the class, but he uses his feet well, is able to find open shooters due to his height and improved on making mistakes on drive-and-kicks as the season went on.

"I think I translate really well to the next level with there being so much more space on the floor and the open court stretched out," he said. "It only benefits me and my ability to get in the lane and make plays."

There's something to be said for him being the next in line of the Calipari point guards. The ever-growing list includes players like Derrick Rose, John Wall, Tyreke Evans, Eric Bledsoe, Jamal Murray and DeAaron Fox. It's the NBA's version of Penn State linebackers or Alabama defensive linemen. The success rate is nearly 100 percent when it comes to Calipari's freshmen point guards; even Brandon Knight averaged 18.1 points over a three-year span in the NBA.

"That’s why guys go to Kentucky," Gilgeous-Alexander said. "It prepares them for the next level. Coach (Calipari) does a really good job, especially with point guards, getting them ready for that next level in a short amount of time."

Gilgeous-Alexander didn't test or play in the 5-on-5 scrimmages, but he still came out of Chicago a winner. He measured 6-foot-6 in shoes with a ridiculous 6-foot-11 1/2 wingspan, a full three inches longer than any other point guard at the Combine. He also added, rather uniquely, that he watches of film Kawhi Leonard playing defense. Most players don't mention watching film on different-position players; most players aren't 6-foot-6 point guards.

"(It's) obviously a more versatile league and playing small ball. And with me being able to guard multiple positions, a lot of teams are switching things like the pick and roll off ball screens, so me being able to switch and guard multiple positions can help an organization."

Gilgeous-Alexander's arrow is pointing way up. He appears to be teetering near Lottery pick status, though that could go one way or the other in private team workouts, especially if he's pitted against fellow top point guards like Trae Young and Collin Sexton. But if his rise at Kentucky is any indication, he'll only continue to improve his game, his stock and eventually his draft position.