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Down after Derrick Rose’s injury? Here are a few reasons to cheer up, Bulls fans

Third-string point guard John Lucas III (15) who loves jack up shots will be fun watch during playoffs. | Tom

Third-string point guard John Lucas III (15), who loves to jack up shots, will be fun to watch during the playoffs. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: June 2, 2012 8:15AM



Judging by the emails I’ve received the last few days, there are Bulls fans out there contemplating (their) suicide and (my) murder. If success is the goal, I’d suggest they not proceed in that order.

This is what Derrick Rose’s knee injury has wrought, a depressed fan base that is alternately telling itself through hot, blurry tears that the Bulls are more than one player and lashing out at those of us who think coach Tom Thibodeau is to blame for Rose’s absence.

It’s a fan base that is all over the place emotionally — up one moment as it remembers that the Bulls were 18-9 without Rose this season as he battled various injuries and down the next at the brutal realization that the team with the best regular-season record will be without its best player for the rest of the playoffs. Light and darkness, playing off each other. Good for art, not so good for emotional stability.

It’s not just in Chicago, either. All over the country, basketball fans can see that the NBA playoffs have suddenly been reduced because of Rose’s injury. The Heat likely is going to win the Eastern Conference without much resistance, and that’s a shame. Rose and his team could have made it difficult for Miami.

But let’s get past that, Bulls fans. There’s still some basketball to play. Life is still worth living. This isn’t a pep rally, and I won’t fool you into thinking your team is about to pull off the biggest upset in sports. This won’t be “Hoosiers II.”

I have, however, come up with five reasons, in no particular order, to be excited about the rest of the postseason as the Bulls head into Game 2 of their series with Philadelphia on Tuesday night:

 John Lucas III. You have to like a guy who starts jacking up shots the second he checks into a game, even though he’s the team’s third-string point guard. It’s as if somebody forgot to tell him he’s not Allen Iverson. Remember the 28 shots Lucas took against the Wizards in January with Rose and C.J. Watson out? You can’t teach that kind of self-confidence. Michael Jordan averaged 22.9 shots a game in his career. If nothing else, you’re going to see a guy listed at 5-11 (uh, no) who isn’t afraid to make his presence known. Don’t expect a sudden change in philosophy.

“No, just go out there and play how I’ve been playing all year —aggressive,’’ he said. “That’s the only way I know how to play. If I stop playing the way I know how to play, then I’m not going to be a factor.’’

 Rip Hamilton. One of the many pities of Rose’s injury is that Hamilton finally seemed part of the team. He was scoring and forcing defenses to pay attention to someone other than Rose, which was the whole point of bringing in another threat after the debacle of last year’s conference finals. But Hamilton is still going to open things up for his teammates and help the Bulls win some playoff games.

 Teamwork. It’s alive and well in Chicago. One of the problems with the 76ers and, to a greater extent, the Hawks is their tendency toward selfishness on offense. It’s why the Bulls were up by 20 points in Game 1 and why the 76ers were not going to come back in that game. The Bulls play so well together, especially on defense, and that’s not going to change with Rose’s absence.

If the Bulls beat Philadelphia and get Boston in the next round, they’ll have an advantage inside with Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Taj Gibson and Omer Asik. Of course, they won’t have an advantage when it comes to trying to stop Rajon Rondo, but, hey, I’m trying to get you off the ledge here. And if Atlanta happens to win that series, the Bulls match up even better.

To this point, the Heat has yet to look like the relentlessly dominant team many of us thought it would be. In two seasons, Miami has shown it can be great and it can be underwhelming, or as underwhelming as a team with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh can be. This is a beatable team. Unfortunately, it isn’t a beatable team in a seven-game series against these Bulls. But if there’s anything the Cubs have taught us, it’s that there’s always next year. Or whenever Rose comes back.



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