Derrick Rose

It seems Derrick Rose can’t go on without scaring the Chicago Bulls every now and then, leaving the game late due to a probable hamstring injury, which shouldn’t keep him out for too long. At least nothing was lost due to his exit, coming away with a tough 100-93 road win over the Toronto Raptors.

With the Bulls leading by 10 and just over two minutes to go, Rose attacked the basket and he was blowing past Kyle Lowry he seemed to slip without any contact. He didn’t have any trouble getting up and moving to the bench, but he, and not him alone, seemed concerned and worried. He’s been there before, and twice it has taken away an entire season from him, and also from the Chicago Bulls, who were meant for greater things over the last three years.

When he was on the floor, things weren’t easy for him. He did score 20 points but only on 5-of-14 from the field and had a frustrating day defensively, with the Raptors setting screen after screen on him to help get Lowry going. The Raptors point guard scored 20 points as well, but was also quite inefficient in his shooting. Eventually the Bulls figured out how to stop that issue and generally brought the Raptors’ offense to a halt in the third quarter, winning 35-14.

Pau Gasol was the Bulls’ best player with 27 points and 12 rebounds, getting plenty of help from an excellent Jimmy Butler. Butler scored 21 points, grabbed 9 rebounds and added 6 assists, but his best work was halting DeMar DeRozan. DeRozan did poorly all game long and especially in the third quarter, shooting 3-of-17 from the field to score 10 points. If Butler didn’t have a hand in DeRozan’s face during a shot, he made sure to give him slight bumps along the way, making it uncomfortable as possible for a player averaging over 20 points per game so far this season.

The result now means both teams share the lead in the Eastern conference with a 7-2 record. The Bulls scored 50 points in the paint to the Raptors’ 48 and were much better with their overall shooting, despite going quite cold from beyond the arc. They did turn the ball over a bit too much (19 times), helping the Raptors on a number of occasions run ahead and score some too easy points. When the game was in half court mode, the Raptors looked to be a bit out of their league.

In an early battle of the best teams in the East according to their records, the Bulls aren’t the knockout winners, but seem like a team with more weapons on both ends of the floor to get the best of their rivals. But the East is a bigger world than just two teams: The Cavaliers, Heat, Wizards and the Hornets exist here as well. For the Bulls to make their way through all of them and come out on top by the end of this season, Derrick Rose needs to be playing better, not to mention somehow staying away from injuries.