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All Eyes On Rose's Ailing Back As Bulls Fall In Boston

By Chuck Sudo in News on Feb 13, 2012 5:40PM

How valuable is Derrick Rose to the Bulls? Had he not missed yesterday's game against the Celtics, the reigning NBA MVP could have been the difference between yesterday's 95-91 loss and a Bulls win.

With Rose on the bench, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo was free to create havoc most of the game. Rondo earned a triple double with 32 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds. The Celtics dictated an up-tempo game early and scored a season-high 33 fast break points, with Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer often breathing the vapor trails of the Boston players running past him. Boozer ended the game with a team-high 22 points and seven rebounds, but his defensive liabilities once again had him riding pine in the final quarter as the Bulls constantly came back from deficits to keep the game close.

But the second guessing over Rose's ailing back has begun. After playing 22 minutes in a blowout win in New Orleans last week, Rose sat out an easy win against Charlotte and was scratched in Beantown yesterday. With the Bulls roaring to the NBA's best record largely in part to an easy first-half schedule, Our Town's sports columnists are wondering if head coach Tom Thibodeau should have sat Rose in New Orleans and penciled in the Boston game to activate his floor leader. The Bulls stayed within striking distance of the Celtics most of the game and it isn't hard to theorize that a rose with an extra day of rest may have kept Rondo in check and slowed down the Celtics while dictating the Bulls' own transition game.

Now Bulls fans have to deal with the four words they dare not speak: Derrick Rose is injured. Rose is set to see specialists for his back today to gauge the extent of his injury. He said he's dealt with this back issue before, but never to this extent. “That’s what’s really killing me right now, missing this many games. It’s killing me not to be out there, but as long as we’re winning games, I’m happy.”

Thanks to the easy schedule, the Bulls finished their recent nine-game road trip with a 6-3 record and beat four straight opponents by 20 points or more. But the three losses were to teams with winning records (Miami, Boston and Philadelphia). The second half of the season could help them get healthy. The Bulls have the best road record in the NBA at 14-6, have played 10 of their 18 back-to-back games, including their only stretch of three straight games this season, and are well-positioned to earn home court advantage through the Eastern Conference playoffs.