Bulls look to make run when Rose returns
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
Little nuggets of information trickle out of Chicago.
Derrick Rose begins low-impact basketball activities. Rose participates in pregame shooting drills. Rose begins high-impact basketball activities. Rose participates in certain aspect of practice. Rose can now absorb physical contact.
They gather momentum, building to a crescendo and leading to the moment the NBA has awaited since last April when Rose tore his left ACL against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.
And when the moment arrives – say maybe a few weeks after the All-Star break – the Bulls expect to be in fine position to climb higher in the Eastern Conference standings.
Without Rose, the Bulls are 27-17 and in third place in the East, ½ game ahead of the Brooklyn Nets. They have more than held it together as Rose recovers, rehabs and gets ready for a pivotal stretch.
“I’m pleased with the attitude and approach of the team,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “There’s certainly a lot of things we can do better, and I want us to continue to improve and stay focused on what’s ahead — our road is going to get tougher. The challenge becomes greater and we’ve got to keep grinding. That’s our way. That’s how we can have success.”
Thibodeau learned to play without Rose for stretches last season. Rose played in just 39 of 66 regular-season games last season, and the Bulls were 18-9 without him. With him, they were 32-7.
But still, Thibodeau knew, with effort and commitment to defense, the Bulls could win, minus Rose. And they have.
And in Rose’s absence, Thibodeau, an outstanding coach who is more than just a defensive guru, deserves credit for putting the Bulls in this position with a completely different bench. Gone from last year’s top-seeded team in the East: Kyle Korver, C.J. Watson, Ronnie Brewer and Omer Asik. In are Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli, Kirk Hinrich. They join Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler, who were with Chicago last season.
The Bulls are No. 3 in defensive efficiency (97.5 points allowed per 100 possessions). It’s been enough to compensate for their offensive efficiency, which is No. … [For more on Bulls look to make a run when Rose returns: NBA A-Z, click here.]