Bulls center Omer Asik (3) and forward Taj Gibson battle for a rebound with former Bull Aaron Gray (left). | Jonathan Daniel~Getty Images
Updated: April 26, 2012 8:27AM
The ‘‘game-time decisions’’ were made long before game time Saturday night.
‘‘Derrick [ Rose] is out; Rip [ Hamilton] is out,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said 90 minutes before tipoff.
Rose (strained groin) missed his sixth consecutive game, and Hamilton (bruised shoulder) missed his 11th consecutive game. And while their playing status continues to be day-to-day, it’s unlikely either will return within the next week.
With 16 games left in the regular season, the Bulls aren’t about to rush either player back.
Rose has been participating in shooting drills and a little bit of non-contact practices, but he still has a long way to go. The next step is ‘‘to be able to complete practice, so he’s doing more running now,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘Just going step-by-step. But we want to make sure he’s completely healthy before we move forward.’’
Hamilton, who has missed 24 of the last 27 games, is further along, but his return does not appear imminent.
‘‘He’s making progress every day,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘He’s doing everything in practice except contact. That’ll be the next step for him.’’
Though he’s still playing, Luol Deng and his sore left wrist bear watching. Deng is not only cold from three-point range over his last seven games, but he’s way off-target. He missed two three-pointers in the first half against the Raptors — neither was close — to drop to 3-for-20 (15 percent) over his last five games and 7-for-31 (22.6 percent) in his last seven.
Just before tipoff, a moment of silence was held at the United Center to honor the memory of Sun-Times sportswriter Lacy J. Banks, who died of heart disease at 68 on Wednesday. Banks covered the Bulls and the NBA throughout his 40-year career at the Sun-Times.
The Raptors, already struggling at 16-32 coming into the game, were short-handed, as well. They were without guard DeMar DeRozan, who scored 30 points in the Raptors’ victory over the New York Knicks on Friday night but suffered an ankle injury late in that game.
DeRozan, who’s averaging 16.5 points, had started 130 consecutive games — one shy of the Raptors’ franchise record.
With Jerryd Bayless also out, Raptors coach Dwane Casey joked about resorting to 7-1 center Solomon Alabi bringing the ball up against the Bulls. Gary Forbes started for DeRozan, with Jose Calderon handling the point.
‘‘It’s unfortunate we’re going against the best defensive team in the league with some of our best ballhandlers out,’’ Casey said. ‘‘But that’s the NBA.’’
Former Bulls James Johnson and Aaron Gray started for the Raptors. Johnson, who averages 8.6 points, continued to play well against his former team, with eight points in a 3:52 span of the first quarter as the Raptors opened up a 30-18 lead.