Derrick Rose watches John Lucas III lead Bulls past Wizards
By Neil Hayes firstname.lastname@example.org January 11, 2012 9:26PM
Bulls guard John Lucas III drives by Washington guard Shelvin Mack in the first quarter as the Chicago Bulls host the Washington Wizards Wednesday January 11, 2012 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: February 13, 2012 9:27AM
With Derrick Rose and C.J. Watson sidelined with injuries, coach Tom Thibodeau was asked who’d start at point guard before the game Wednesday night.
“Lucas,” he growled, referring to third-stringer John Lucas III. When he was asked who’d be backing up Lucas, Thibodeau said, “Lucas.”
It was an honest answer. It also served as a rare moment of levity before the strangest night of what already has become a frequently bizarre season. Lucas, making his first NBA start, didn’t play 48 minutes but was on the floor for 45 and scored a game-high 25 points to go along with eight assists and eight rebounds in the Bulls’ 78-64 win over the Wizards at the United Center.
“He didn’t leave any bullets in the gun,” Thibodeau said, shaking his head. “I give him a lot of credit.”
Lucas launched 28 shots. To put that in perspective, consider that Rose, who was out with a sprained toe, has averaged 16 shots this season, and Michael Jordan averaged 22.9 during his career. For a third-string point guard, Lucas isn’t bashful. Lucas surpassed Jordan’s career average midway through the fourth quarter.
“Coach Thibs was getting mad at me when I wasn’t taking shots when I was open because I did feel like I was shooting too much,” Lucas said. “He said if you don’t take those shots, it won’t open things up for everybody else. Once I realized what he was talking about, that’s when Kyle [Korver] started coming off screens and taking shots. It opened up something else.”
The evening started with the worst-case scenario: Rose in a walking boot. The reigning MVP injured the toe in the victory Tuesday night against Minnesota.
Rose was determined to play. X-rays were negative, but the pain was too intense.
Thibodeau said Rose is day-to-day with a sprained toe, not turf toe. Thibodeau said the injury is unlike the turf toe that forward Carlos Boozer suffered late last season. He’s hopeful Rose will return for the game Friday in Boston. Don’t count on it. He has been calling Watson day-to-day for almost two weeks.
“He’s been huge playing through injuries,” guard Ronnie Brewer said of Rose, who only missed one game last season. “He’s a tough guy. If he’s out, you know it’s bothering him a little bit.”
Korver scored 14 points, and Luol Deng added 12 points and 15 rebounds as the Bulls completed the back-to-back-to-back portion of their schedule with three straight wins. Omer Asik had eight points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots.
The Bulls outrebounded the Wizards 62-46, including six consecutive offensive rebounds in the final minutes to seal the game.
“I really felt like our bigs were huge tonight,” Deng said. “The way we rebounded the ball gave us a lot of second chances.”
Lucas started cramping up in the third quarter. Who could blame him? He hadn’t played more than 22 minutes since he was with the Rockets and played 31 in the 2006-07 regular-season finale against Utah.
“It’s very unusual for a backup point guard to get 28 shots,” Wizards coach Flip Saunders said. “However, he is an offensive-minded guard, and he made some tough shots.”