DEERFIELD, Illinois (AP):
One bad landing finished Derrick Rose's season. The Chicago Bulls insist it hasn't dashed their NBA title hopes.
With their superstar point guard out for the rest of the season with a left knee injury, the Bulls will try to take a 2-0 lead over the Philadelphia 76ers when their first-round play-off series resumes tonight after realising their worst nightmare in the opener.
There was Rose writhing in pain with just over a minute left after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament. Now, the Bulls will have to pick themselves up.
"I've watched them respond to every challenge all year long," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "This is the next one."
And it's a big one.
The Bulls came into the season looking for more after posting the league's best record and advancing to Eastern Conference finals a year ago. They earned homecourt advantage throughout the play-offs again even though Rose and Richard Hamilton missed significant time because of injuries, which explains why they believe they can get through this.
Even so, the sight of Rose going down late in Saturday's 103-91 victory sent a major chill through Chicago and stirred a debate over whether he should have been in the game at that point. Players and general manager Gar Forman publicly defended Thibodeau's decision, but losing Rose to many wiped out whatever chance the Bulls have at advancing to the NBA finals, much less winning it all.
"It's more fun being the underdog, right?" said Kyle Korver, who sat out Monday's practice but is expected to play. "I don't think a lot of people expected us to win a championship to begin with. But even now, it's probably moreso that way. We're definitely confident in ourselves."
They realise the task just jumped a few levels in difficulty, though.