Kirk Hinrich covers DeMar DeRozan during a road victory over the Raptors in which all Bulls’ starters scored in double figures. | AP
Pacers at bulls
The facts: 7, Ch. 9, 1000-AM.
Updated: December 17, 2013 6:19AM
TORONTO — Derrick who?
Before the Derrick Rose critics could start running with that thought after a 96-80 dismantling of the Toronto Raptors on Friday night at the Air Canada Centre, Joakim Noah offered up a little perspective on life without Rose.
“I mean, yeah, obviously it’s different,’’ Noah said when asked about Rose sitting out the game with a sore right hamstring. “I mean, he’s a different caliber player, but overall we know that we need Derrick to get to where we want to get to.’’
The end goal is holding up an NBA championship trophy. To a man, the Bulls’ players know they need Rose to even have a chance to sniff that.
So even if the offense did function smoothly in his absence against the Raptors, and even if the defense was a bit more suffocating with Kirk Hinrich taking his place in the starting lineup, the reality for Rose’s teammates is they need him up and running.
“I think he did the right thing [Friday night], get that thing back to 100 percent and get back on the court, but I’m just happy we got the win,’’ Noah said. “A lot of guys contributed. Hopefully we can get Derrick on the court soon.’’
When? That’s the big question.
“Just being smart about the situation,’’ Rose said of missing his first regular-season game this year. “There’s nothing like rest.
“Being smart about my body, listening to my body, and [the hamstring] was just tight. The tightness just didn’t loosen up.’’
Rose will receive treatment in Chicago on Saturday afternoon and attempt to go through the walkthrough with the hope of returning against the Indiana Pacers that night.
“I hope so,’’ Rose said about whether he thought he would play. “But if it’s still tight, there’s no need to.’’
And the team will make sure he doesn’t, if that’s the case. After missing 18 months of basketball recovering from knee surgery, small bumps in the road were expected in Rose’s return.
“Yeah, each day [Rose has] gotten better, so we just want to make sure,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We’ll see where it is.’’
On Friday, the business at hand was disposing of a Raptors team that never was a threat from the tip to the final horn.
Behind 17 combined points from Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer in the first quarter, the Bulls (4-3) took a 27-16 lead and never looked back. All five starters finished in double figures. Noah had one of his better games with 18 points and nine rebounds. The Raptors (4-6) were led by DeMar DeRozan’s 37 points.
“I feel good, I’ve been feeling good for three or four games now,’’ said Noah, who has been getting over a sore groin.