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Sore Rose, Gibson should be ready for Bulls' playoff opener

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Sore Rose, Gibson should be ready for Bulls' playoff opener

When Aaron Brooks stepped onto the floor with the first five to start the second half in the Bulls’ regular-season finale, murmurs could be heard through the United Center as the fan base was likely petrified over whatever could be wrong with Derrick Rose.

After all, everything had been geared toward this postseason, and with the way he played up until Wednesday night, something wrong with Rose wouldn’t be so much ominous as it was expected.

But it was just left knee soreness, and the Bulls point guard pulled himself out from participating in the Bulls’ come-from-behind win over the Atlanta Hawks, which clinched their first-round matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks.

“Not worried,” Rose said afterward. “It’s something I felt before in the past, probably USA (basketball, in the summer). But I felt good. I’m not worried about it coming up again. It’s just tonight wasn’t the night.”

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Rose patiently answered queries from the curious media, as there was no injury report released by the team on him as he sat at the end of the bench from the third quarter on.

It’s important to note it wasn’t the right knee, the one Rose had surgery on in late February to remove his meniscus, causing him to miss six weeks of action and placing real doubt on whether he would return to the floor this season.

“He had a little bit of soreness in his knee,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “The guys are kind of nicked up right now, and I want to play it safe. We just decided to sit him out the second half.”

Not only did Rose sit the second half, but Taj Gibson left the game in the third quarter with a left shoulder strain, and the Bulls were already without Joakim Noah and Kirk Hinrich for the evening.

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Gibson took a cortisone shot at halftime, and there’s no real concern about him missing Game 1 on Saturday night. Rose’s status doesn’t appear to be up in the air, either, but with this Bulls team for this season, nobody’s taking anything for granted from an availability standpoint.

“I took that at halftime so I’d be feeling a lot better come Saturday,” Gibson said. “I’m OK going forward. Got the shot, looking forward to feeling a lot better tomorrow. Another day of rest, practice, should be fine.

“I was in a lot of pain all yesterday, even in Brooklyn I was in a lot of pain, but I just kept playing, trying to be tough, just trying to go after it and put my body first, put my body before the team, no excuses, gotta keep being tough. It’s that time of the year. Gotta push out all the excuses, all the negativity, and it’s time to go.”

Rose said the same thing moments earlier, the “no excuses” mantra that will likely be manna to a starved fan base. Playing just a handful of games before the postseason certainly feels like a dangerous proposition, but Rose knows that doesn’t matter much now anyways.

“I think nobody cares now,” said Rose to laughs. “I think it’s all about playing. Like I said, going into these playoffs, no excuses and get the job done. That’s the mindset.”

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Both sides felt it was pertinent to take the long view — as in preparing for Saturday and hopefully for their sake, a long run into late spring. Had Wednesday been a playoff game, Rose said he would’ve been on the floor.

“Probably had it a couple weeks back,” said Rose when asked if he felt soreness before. “But it wasn’t no point in fighting through it tonight. Playoff game, yes, but I believe in my teammates, that’s one of the reasons there wasn’t any pressure.”

Brooks of course played the hero in Rose’s stead, and Thibodeau said he knows Rose would’ve liked to play a little more to get more rust off.

“I just thought with the way it was going it was better for him not to play and Taj as well,” Thibodeau said. “We are going to play it safe. We just want to make sure anyone who is nicked up, they are getting rest now.”

Patrick Beverley tells Wojnarowski: 'Vinny Del Negro, he told me I didn't play defense'

Patrick Beverley tells Wojnarowski: 'Vinny Del Negro, he told me I didn't play defense'

Patrick Beverley's path to the NBA was an intriguing one, a true story of perseverance featuring many twists and turns. For those who haven't closely followed Beverley's career, the Chicago native and current Los Angeles Clipper had a three-year career overseas before he really caught on in the NBA, landing a multi-year deal with the Houston Rockets in 2013. Before landing with the Rockets, Beverley played for Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (Ukraine), Olympiacos Piraeus (Greece), Spartak St. Petersburg (Russia) before landing in Houston but a lesser-known fact is that Beverley actually spent time practicing with the Bulls within the first two years of his overseas basketball career. 

On Saturday's episode of "The Woj Pod" hosted by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Beverley discussed the importance of glue guys, Kris Dunn's season and much more. One of the more interesting tidbits was the aforementioned workouts with the Bulls. Beverley responded to a Woj question about if he could've played with the Bulls had things went differently earlier in his career:

I worked in the summertime with the Bulls, I don't know, two-three years in a row, Vinny Del Negro, he told me I didn't play defense...

Beverley elicited laughter from the crowd but he is clearly (and some would say rightfully) still upset by those who didn't give him an opportunity along the way. He went on to say that there is a "dynamic that fans don't know" and "can only assume." In the interview, Beverley didn't give a specific year but he says "two-three years" and clearly states that Vinny Del Negro was the head coach, meaning that he likely scrimmaged with the Bulls at points during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons.

When you take a closer look at those rosters, the possible matchups Beverley had become incredibly interesting to think about. The 2009 Bulls had nine players scoring in double figures — and a 10th scoring 9.9 points per game in Kirk Hinrich — and the 2010 Bulls had six players scoring in double figures.

Beverley could've had matchups against Larry Hughes (12,0 PPG in '09), John Salmons (career-high 18.3 PPG in '09), Ben Gordon (20.7 PPG in '09), or even Derrick Rose (18.7 PPG from 2008-10). Out of that group, Gordon and Rose specifically, can make any defender look bad on their best day, so maybe Del Negro's mistake wasn't as egregious as it appears now. Either way, Beverley certainly hasn't forgotten the ordeal. 

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Derrick Jones Jr. takes down Aaron Gordon in an all-time great NBA Dunk Contest

Derrick Jones Jr. takes down Aaron Gordon in an all-time great NBA Dunk Contest

Ask anyone from Chicago around All-Star weekend, and you'll quickly learn the city breeds tough, gritty and relentless basketball.

Apparently, it also breeds controversial dunk contests.

Thirty-two years after Michael Jordan bested Dominique Wilkins in a contest at the Old Chicago Stadium that many agree saw a healthy heaping of home-cooking on the menu, Derrick Jones Jr. topped Aaron Gordon in an affair that sent shockwaves through the NBA universe. Here's the rundown:

Highlights from regulation

There was a special feeling about this one from the very beginning.

Perhaps white men can jump:

 

 

Dwight busted out the cape (again) — and tributed Kobe along the way:

 

Aaron Gordon at one point rattled off five 50s in a row:

 

The finish

In the end, it all came down to Gordon and Jones, who duked out a dunk-off that featured some absolute haymakers:

 

It was raucous fun, truly. But the controversy came at the finish. Jones' final dunk was an attempted reprisal of Julius Erving's famous free-throw line dunk (re-popularized by Jordan, partly in that aforementioned '88 contest), which registered a 48. Gordon then pulled out the 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall for an improvised leapfrog that nearly tore the roof down.

 

"It was a great decision for him to do that. Everybody knows Tacko's a fan favorite," Jones said. "I knew it was going to get the crowd hyped."

"He (Fall) was a little bit nervous. He was like 'I got faith in you.' I was like, 'I appreciate it,'" Gordon said.

That dunk, though, garnered only a 47 from the judges. Game, set, match: Jones. Boos cascaded from the rafters.

The reaction

That sentiment carried over into the postgame presser.

"What are we doing here?" Gordon bemoaned to assorted media before even taking his seat at the podium. "Jumping over somebody 7-foot-5 and dunking is no easy feat. What did I get, like a 47? Come on, man. What are we doing?"

All fair questions. All fair points.

"I don't even know who gave me the 9s. I'm going to find them," he added with a laugh. "Trust me, I'm going to find them tonight.

Dwyane Wade, Scottie Pippen and Chadwick Boseman... Look out.

Gordon did give Jones his due, calling him a "leaper" and "great dunker." Still, this appears to be the final contest of Gordon's career.

"It's a wrap, bro. It's a wrap. I feel like I should have two trophies," Gordon said, alluding to his defeat at the hands of Zach LaVine in 2016. "My next goal is going to be trying to win the 3-point contest."

Jones, meanwhile, contested the premise that Gordon was robbed at all.

"When I got that 48, it was tough because that was a dunk that I was doing since high school and I know that's 50-worthy. There's no way I should have got a 48," Jones said. "He clipped Tacko's head when he did that dunk, so I knew they couldn't have gave him a 50 for that one. I would have respected it if they gave him another 48, so we can go again."

In that event, Jones said he would have been ready.

"I just turned 23, I got legs for days," Jones said. Jones' birthday was the night of the contest, and he said he had dunks planned for as long as the judges allowed them to.

And though Jones hasn't yet thought about where this dunk contest ranks in the history of ones before, he's ready for the next challenge.

"Whoever want to step out there. I don't know. I'm not naming no names. I don't want to call nobody out, but whoever want to step out in front of me, I'm there. I'm not going to shy away from nobody."

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