Realistically, the Bulls didn’t have much of a chance to beat the Magic.
Orlando came into the game on a six-game winning streak, while Chicago stumbled into the Magic’s Kingdom on a season-worst five-game skid. The Bulls were without Joakim Noah (plantar fasciitis in his left foot) and Luol Deng (strained calf muscle), and both Brad Miller (thumb injury) and Taj Gibson (plantar fasciitis in both feet) were hurting. All the Bullies really had going for them was Derrick Rose.
Then they didn’t have Rose anymore.
With 55 seconds left in the first quarter, Rose drove to the hoop. And for the second time this season, Dwight Howard put Rose on the floor. Derrick stayed there for while, holding his left wrist. Eventually, he got to his feet and walked to the locker room. Rose did not return to the game.
Neither did the rest of the Bulls.
But I’ll get back to that.
Rose had an X-ray on his injured wrist, and it initially revealed a sprain. Derrick will have an MRI done on the wrist today. There’s no word as of yet whether Rose will suit up against the Heat in Miami tonight.
Said Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro: “Derrick has a sprained wrist. I have no idea how bad it is. He’s going to get an MRI [Friday] to see how bad the damage is and see how he feels.”
Regarding the collision, Howard said: “As a big man, you never try to hurt anybody when they come down the lane. Me and Derrick are cool. I think he’s a great player. A great person. Never wanted to see him get hurt. But I always tell him, if you come down the lane, always come off two feet. That way you’ll be on balance. You come off one all it takes is for somebody’s body to hit you and you’re going to fall. I hope he gets better. I hope there’s nothing seriously wrong with him. But I never intended on hurting him. It’s just the way it happened.
“I think if you hit something that doesn’t move. you usually end up falling.”
Added Magic coach Stan Van Gundy: “He’s going full speed, and he’s hitting basically an immovable object.”
Uh huh again.
Look, I’m not saying that Howard’s foul was especially dirty. It wasn’t Kevin McHale clotheslining Kurt Rambis or Bruce Bowen doing, well, pretty much anything. However, it’s worth noting that Dwight has a history of elbowing people like Samuel Dalembert. And Pau Gasol. And LeBron James. Heck, Howard once fractured the sinus of one of his own teammates…during the playoffs!
And of course, “Superman” took Rose down on a similar play back on February 10, bruising Derrick’s hip in the process. Rose left that game and did not return, and the Bulls got blown out with extreme prejudice.
In last night’s play, Rose was going in for a layup as Howard jumped into him, causing a body-to-body collision. Derrick was already in the air when Dwight went into him. That’s a dangerous play. Any time you hit somebody when they’re in the air, you risk hurting them. All that “immovable object” talk from Howard and Van Gundy rings a little hollow to me. The more I rewatch that play — and you can see it here — the more I see Howard jumping hard into an airborne player who had no chance to protect himself.
But maybe I’m a bit biased. Or maybe I’ve just seen the video one (or many) too many times.
What slim hope the Bulls had to compete left with Rose. Chicago was down by 11 points (26-15) when Derrick trudged to the locker room. By halftime, they were behind 65-33. The third and fourth quarters got played only because David Stern hasn’t instituted a slaughter rule yet. Maybe games like this will change his mind.
I don’t even know what to say about this game. Orlando outshot Chicago 55 percent to 39 and outrebounded them 46-29. Acie Law played 19 minutes and Joe Alexander logged 13. Stats, words, blah, blah, blah. It was an ugly, embarrassing, hopeless blowout. The Bulls had almost no chance without two of their top three players. Those chances were downgraded to “none” when they lost their best player.
Make it six losses in a row (by an average of 17 points each). And probably seven in a row tonight.
Said Del Negro: “We’re a different team than we were. From our injuries, to the trades, to everything involved. We’re without a lot of our guys. There’s no excuses. It is what it is. We’ve got to find a way to get healthy and weather the storm like I talked about, but there’s no question we are a battered bunch right now.”