Bulls

With Derrick Rose a last-second scratch, E'Twaun Moore steps forward

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With Derrick Rose a last-second scratch, E'Twaun Moore steps forward

Derrick Rose was announced as a late scratch with right hamstring tendinitis, about 45 minutes before the Bulls’ win over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.

It’s the second game Rose has missed this month, his best statistical month since the 2011-12 season before the first of his three knee injuries. Taking the game off before the start of a three-games-in-four-night stretch seems to be the aim, as he said his body doesn’t feel 100 percent and he doesn’t want to risk serious injury.

“A little bit yesterday (Tuesday) after we practiced, while we were practicing. Then this morning, that’s when I really felt it,” he said. “Just don’t want to take any risks.”

Pau Gasol was battling the flu and was a game-time decision, but was in the starting lineup against the Wizards, a team chasing the Bulls for the eighth playoff spot.

With the Bulls’ 109-104 win, they rose from eighth to sixth in the East, so every game is of the essence.

The Bulls will travel to Atlanta on Thursday for a game against the Hawks on Friday, then return home to play the surging Portland Trailblazers on Saturday, where Damian Lillard looks to give Rose all he can handle if they match up.

“I’m taking it one day at a time, trying not to risk it,” Rose said. “That’s what it’s all about, just reading my body.”

[MORE BULLS: Taj Gibson leads short-handed Bulls in surprising win over Wizards]

Rose is averaging 21.9 points, 6.0 assists and 5.6 rebounds this month on 44-percent shooting, so making sure he doesn’t disrupt momentum appears to be the main goal.

“I love the way I’m playing. I feel like I’m playing to win,” Rose said. “I feel like I’m in a good mood, great place mentally. Just trying not to risk all of it by just going out there and playing crazy.”

E’Twaun Moore stepped up in Rose's absence, which came as a surprise to most but not Moore, who’s been playing in the starting lineup for awhile and just so happened to slide over to point guard in this pinch.

He tied for a team-best 17 points.

“Just knowing I can play,” said Moore when asked where his confidence comes from. “Every time I played I’ve been productive. It’s not like I haven’t done it before or haven’t played in games. It’s my fifth year, they think it’s my second year. I’ve been other places and had big games before.”

Scoring eight in the fourth quarter against John Wall, he got in the crevices of the defense and made some momentum-turning plays, but did it calmly without being frenetic.

“It’s in you. It’s either in you or not,” Moore said. “It’s no other way around it for me. I’ve never been scared for any opportunity.

“I definitely look forward to it. It gets me going. When things get tight, everybody excited. I love it.”

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Moore had his hands full on the other end with Wall and didn’t allow Wall to perform his usual end-to-end theatrics, earning the respect of all his teammates.

“He guards the best wing. He puts points on the board. Listens to the coach, never complains,” Taj Gibson said. “He’s always there to help. The biggest thing is he never complains. When he knows one of our players messed up on coverage, he never complains. He does his job like a true professional.”

And while he comes across very smooth and not boastful, don’t think Moore doesn’t want to show how good he believes he is at every opportunity — you just won’t hear him because he whispers.

“I talk. I talk a little bit. Not a lot, a little bit,” Moore said with a smile. “It’s just my personality. I’m laid back. I’m not quiet. I talk a little bit, I’m just not loud.”

Seven years ago today LeBron James slammed the Bulls' championship window shut

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AP

Seven years ago today LeBron James slammed the Bulls' championship window shut

The Bulls couldn't have known it at the time, but when LeBron James blocked a Derrick Rose 3-point attempt in the final seconds of Game 5 in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, it was the closest those Bulls would ever get to the promised land.

It happened on May 26, 2011, seven long, long, long years ago today.

The game was an ugly one and certainly a fourth quarter the Bulls would love to have back. They took a 12-point lead on a Ronnie Brewer 3-pointer with 3:53 remaining. The Heat closed the game on a 19-4 run, with James' emphatic block on Rose the lasting image of the series.

James finished with a game-high 28 points and 11 rebounds, and added six assists, three steals and two blocks in 46 minutes.

Rose went just 9-for-29, finishing the series shooting 35 percent from the field after being named league MVP over James.

It's probably unfair to say James and James alone shut the Bulls' championship window. Rose's ACL tear the following postseason realistically was the biggest culprit. But these Bulls had won 62 games, had homecourt advantage, had the MVP, the Coach of the Year and all the momentum. And still they couldn't get it done against James.

That win also sent James to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007. He's been there every year since, though that could change as he faces the Celtics on Sunday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

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.