Bulls stumble without Derrick Rose, Luol Deng
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org April 16, 2012 10:18PM
Washington Wizards forward James Singleton (3), blocks the shot of Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, April 16, 2012, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Updated: May 18, 2012 9:55AM
The NBA-leading Bulls continued to trudge to the finish of a grueling NBA season with the proverbial refrigerator on their back, losing to the lowly Washington
Wizards 87-84 on Monday at the United Center.
But another unimpressive effort wasn’t their biggest concern. Nothing else is when Derrick Rose is hurt.
The reigning NBA most valuable player missed his 24th game of the season because of an injured right foot suffered in the Bulls’ victory Sunday against the Detroit Pistons. Coach Tom Thibodeau said after the game he didn’t know the condition of Rose’s injury.
Rose has missed 13 of the Bulls’ last 16 games. The Bulls (46-15) are 8-5 in those games and 16-8 overall without him. Their record without Rose no longer is as comforting as it once was, considering that the playoffs begin in 12 days.
‘‘I’m concerned about that,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘He’s missed a lot of games.’’
But that wasn’t his only concern. Forward Luol Deng, playing through a wrist injury that ultimately might require surgery, missed the game with a rib injury he suffered against the Pistons. And though Rose’s latest injury is at the forefront, the Bulls’ performance against the Wizards (16-45) was particularly disconcerting to Thibodeau.
The Bulls committed 17 turnovers, shot 38 percent from the field and lost an 11-point lead to a team that had won six road games all season. The Wizards had 20 fast-break points; the Bulls had two.
‘‘[I’m] disappointed,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘We’ve got to play better. That part is on me; I’ve got to get the team to play well. We have more than enough to win with. We didn’t do our job; I didn’t do my job. It starts with me.’’
With five games left in the regular season, the Bulls are running out of time to regain their midseason form, when they won 15 of 17 games and were blowing out non-playoff teams. The Bulls are 6-5 in their last 11 games.
And even against the Wizards at home, the Bulls were unable to turn a poor performance into a winner when given the opportunity. They trailed 82-77 with 1:40 left before C.J. Watson made two jumpers and a three-pointer to pull them to 85-84. After the Wizards’ Maurice Evans made two free throws, the Bulls had two chances to tie, but Richard Hamilton and Watson missed three-pointers in the final 10 seconds.
‘‘We’ve got to do a better job during the game,’’ said Hamilton, who played 32 minutes and scored 22 points to go with five assists and five rebounds. ‘‘When we’ve got a team down, we’ve got to put them away. It’s not just tonight; it’s been happening the last couple of games. So we’ve just got to get better at it.’’
The Bulls still have the best
record in the NBA, but Thibodeau didn’t hide his disappointment.
‘‘It’s clear to me why we’re not playing well,’’ he said. ‘‘Readiness to play. Defense. Rebounding. Low turnovers. That should be a staple. Then it’s inside-out and share the ball. When we do that, we’re a good team. When we don’t, we’re not very good. Believe me, there’s clarity on that.’’