Bulls

Rose still bothered by toe, weekend status unknown

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Rose still bothered by toe, weekend status unknown

All Tom Thibodeau wants for his birthday is a win.

If that happens, it will have to come without the benefit of having Derrick Rose, as the point guard will sit out Tuesdays game against the Suns at the United Center, the second consecutive contest hes been sidelined.

Hes not playing tonight, Thibodeau said before the game. It was a collective decision. We gathered the information, we looked at where we are in the schedule and we all decided its in the best interest of everyone to sit this one out.

Where he is with the injury, all that played into it.

Roses injury suffered last Tuesday in Minnesota, has been alternately described as a sprained left big toe and turf toe.

I was looking on some clarity on that myself. You can say its a sprain or turf toe. I guess theres some similarities between the two, but its sore and thats the bottom line, so we just want to make sure we take care of that. So, we just felt its best to have him sit this one out, explained Thibodeau. This ones more on the top of the toe, so thats what makes a difference. Hes got some swelling, so weve got to get that out.

Fortunately for Rose, after an off day Sunday following Saturdays home win over the Raptors, then missing Mondays loss in Memphis, hell have plenty of rest, as the Bulls dont play again until Friday at Cleveland.

Hes usually a pretty quick healer, so hell get his treatment, then we have a couple days off, so well see where he is after that, said Thibodeau, who will start C.J. Watson Watson himself just returned to the lineup Monday after spraining his left elbow in the New Years Day home opener in place of Rose. He usually responds pretty well to treatment.

You base your decisions on the information that you have at that particular time. He felt that he was feeling better. Weve played a number of games in a short amount of time, so we just want to be smart. A lot of guys are hurting right now. We dont want to take any chances, continued Thibodeau, who indicated that he had no regrets about playing Rose in back-to-back wins over Boston and Toronto. Hes fine. Hes going to do whats in the best interest of the team and thats where it is. He certainly has a lot of input in it, but we all have to weigh in. We talked to our doctors and to Bulls team trainer Fred Tedeschi.

I think that once hes healthy and thats something we talked to the medical staff first is what can he handle. Hes been through different injuries. Once the swellings out of there and the pain goes down, hell be fine.

While the Bulls will be missing the reigning league MVP, the other half of their starting backcourt will be back in the lineup Tuesday, as veteran shooting guard Rip Hamilton will start after missing eight consecutive games with a nagging groin injury.

Were going to see how he feels, Thibodeau said, prior to the decision. If he goes through his warmup and he feels OK, well give it a shot.

Thibodeau was pleased with the play of Watson in his return Monday, as the backup point guard logged 28 minutes, scored 17 points, sparked an aborted Bulls comeback and perhaps most importantly, played aggressively, with no hesitation

He said he felt pretty good. theres some soreness there, but thats normal and again, we were watching him during the game and the way he was driving the ball, and he went after some loose balls and stuff, so he got hit quite a bit. He said he felt pretty good today, so that was encouraging, said the coach about Watson. He did really well and its a tribute to his professionalism. He did a lot of conditioning when he was out and he was able to handle those minutes.

Bulls defense costs them late but showing 'competitive spirit' a step in right direction

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USA TODAY

Bulls defense costs them late but showing 'competitive spirit' a step in right direction

The Bulls defense is nowhere near where it needs to be, and it cost them dearly on Saturday night. But in a season that’s still about seeing progression both individually and collectively, the Bulls took a step in the right direction with their effort and what Fred Hoiberg called “competitive spirit.”

That won’t change the standings when they wake up Sunday morning, now facing an 0-2 hole in the early season. And while better effort and tougher defense helped them stage a second-half comeback they weren’t able to manage on Thursday, it was a defensive miscue that cost them the game.

Ish Smith split a double screen at the top of the key and sliced his way past Jabari Parker for a wide open go-ahead layup with 5.4 seconds left. Zach LaVine, who 20 seconds earlier had tied the game with the last of his 33 points, was unable to get a shot off after a timeout. Better than Thursday for 47 minutes and 50 seconds. But still costing them when it mattered most.

“We can’t give up a layup for the last play,” said LaVine, who was guarding Smith. “We just got to get our defense right. That’s why it’s really upsetting because we played so well, we came back but we can’t give up a layup. We at least have to make him take a tough one. That was as easy a layup as you can get. It’s really upsetting.”

Fred Hoiberg defended his decision to leave Parker in the game instead of inserting rookie Wendell Carter Jr. He opted to ride the group that helped the Bulls erase a fourth-quarter deficit when it appeared the Bulls were spiraling toward another double-digit loss.

But the Pistons were ready to find the weak link in the Bulls defense and expose it, like they did much of the fourth quarter while attacking Parker with Blake Griffin. As the screen was set Parker jumped outside to cut off Smith, who then made a cut inward and made a dash to the rim. Parker was a couple steps late, allowing the 5-foot-9 Smith to score with ease to give the Pistons their lead and the eventual game-winner.

Bobby Portis, whose shot wasn’t falling but played admirable defense against a talent like Griffin, was on the other side of the double screen and didn’t have a great view of the play. But he said allowing a layup with the game on the line is inexcusable.

“It’s a tough play but at the same time you don’t want to give up a layup at the end of the game,” he said. “You want to make him take a tough shot. That’s something we’ve got to work on, is late game execution on defense.”

But again, it’s about baby steps. The Bulls will want that final possession back, and Hoiberg might also want it back after leaving Parker in the game over Carter. But from where the Bulls were on Thursday, this was better. Granted, allowing 118 points and 18 3-pointers to the Pistons isn’t a recipe for success, it’s improvement nonetheless. Detroit got a career-high five triples from Griffin, four from Reggie Jackson (a career 32 percent 3-point shooter) and a pair from Stnaley Johnson (a career 29 percent 3-point shooter). The Bulls will be able to live with some of those makes.

On Thursday the Bulls trailed by just six early in the third quarter before the Sixers ripped off a 19-3 run to put the game out of reach. On Saturday the Pistons got out to a six-point lead on two different occasions, and then a seven-point lead with just 2:01 to play. All three times the Bulls came roaring back, using timely spots and clutch baskets from LaVine, Park and even Cameron Payne, who tied a career-high with 17 points.

Ultimately it wasn’t enough, but it’s a positive sign that they were able to battle back and show some fight defensively. They’ll certainly need that when they travel to Dallas to take on a Mavericks team that scored 140 points on the Jimmy Butler-less Timberwolves on Saturday. They should get Dunn back, which will help,  and now have a close contest under their belt on which to build. It didn’t result in a win, and the late-game cross-up was the cause, but the Bulls finished Saturday in a much better place than they were in on Thursday.

“Yeah but obviously we want to get the win. I feel like we fought hard,” Portis said. “Even when adversity hit everybody stuck together. We did our thing tonight. You want to win the game but I felt like we did our job tonight. We just gave up a bad play at the end of the game.”

Denzel Valentine suffers setback on injured left ankle, will be reevaluated in 2 weeks

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USA TODAY

Denzel Valentine suffers setback on injured left ankle, will be reevaluated in 2 weeks

Denzel Valentine’s troublesome left ankle is going to keep him on the sideline for at least the next two weeks. Fred Hoiberg said Saturday before the Bulls’ home opener against the Detroit Pistons that Valentine is suffering from a bone bruise in the ankle he sprained on the second day of training camp. Valentine will be evaluated in two weeks.

“It sucks because of all the work I put in this summer and being around the guys you want to be out there so bad,” he said. “Things happen for a reason, and now that we know what’s going on I at least have a time frame and be patient with it; it’s bad news but good news at the same time as it gives me time to get ready.”

Valentine had been practicing earlier in the week and appeared close to a return after spraining the ankle on Sept. 25. But the third year wing complained of discomfort in the ankle and missed practice on Friday. A scan of the left ankle revealed the bone bruise, and Hoiberg wouldn’t speculate on when exactly Valentine might return.

It’s the same ankle Valentine had surgery on in May 2017. Valentine also missed the last two weeks of last season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. The injury couldn’t come at a worse time for Valentine or the Bulls, who are in desparate need of help both in the backcourt and on the wing.

Though Valentine isn’t a true point guard, he averaged 3.2 assists per game off the bench last season. The Bulls could use that kind of production when Kris Dunn returns on Monday, as Cameron Payne and Ryan Arcidiacono haven’t exactly showed promise in the early going.

Instead, Valentine is on the mend and it’s unclear when he might return. Given he’s had surgery on the same ankle before, the Bulls will be cautious upon his return.

“I’m a fighter, I’m not going to quit; just deal with the hand dealt," Valentine said. "I can’t sit here and be negative, I just got to fight, stay mentally strong and this will be bittersweet when I come back and have a great year.”