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Game 1: Bulls 103, Sixers 91

Three Stars (leaderboard)
1. Derrick Rose: 23 points (.482 TS%), 9 rebounds, 9 assists
2. Joakim Noah: 12 points (.588 TS%), 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks
3. Rip Hamilton: 19 points (.985 TS%), 3 rebounds, 4 assists

Chicago’s championship hopes died Saturday at approximately 2:32 p.m. CT when Derrick Rose burst into the lane, jumped to a stop and pushed off to explode up toward the basket.

His left leg did not cooperate, buckling inward at the knee as the anterior cruciate ligament tore. Rose crumpled to the floor, visibly in serious pain, as the action moved to the other end of the court.

He will not play again this season, or for many months beyond that. It sounds to me like we’ll be lucky to see him at full strength for the 2013 playoffs a year from now. ACL injuries are no joke, especially for players who depend on speed, explosiveness and power to the extent that Rose does.

The rest of Game 1 seemed almost beside the point, though the Bulls looked every bit a championship contender for most of the afternoon. Rose, Joakim Noah and Rip Hamilton were in top form, Luol Deng was sneaky good, and Carlos Boozer didn’t need to do too much. The bench played even with Philadelphia, but that’s to be expected in a matchup of two of the league’s deepest teams.

What now? It’s hard to envision the Rosettes winning four games against Miami or the best the Western Conference has to offer, but I see no reason they can’t fight off the Sixers and potentially beat the Celtics/Hawks winner.

We’ve seen them do it before, and they can do it again, with hearts far heavier.

Box Score

Series: Bulls lead, 1-0
Next: Game 2, Tuesday 5/1 vs. Philadelphia, 7:00 CT

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Faces of Death: Derrick Rose’s Knee Injury

Derrick Rose is out for the season after tearing the ACL in his left knee in the waning moments of Saturday’s playoff-opening win against the Sixers. Here’s what it looked like:

Game 66: Bulls 107, Cavaliers 75

Three Stars (leaderboard)
1. John Lucas: 25 points (.741 TS%), 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals
2. Taj Gibson: 10 points (.727 TS%), 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 blocks
3. Joakim Noah: 13 points (.547 TS%), 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block

Derrick Rose sat out. Luol Deng did too.

Cleveland played Donald Sloan and D.J. Kennedy, two guards no one has ever heard of, for a combined 70 minutes, and they were fairly awful. As a group, the visitors shot 32 percent from the field.

Yeah, the Bulls “B team” was more than enough in this limp rag of a finale. Bring on the playoffs!

Box Score

Record: 50-16, first in the NBA
Next: Game 1, Saturday 4/28 vs. Philadelphia, 12:00 CT

Game 65: Bulls 92, Pacers 87

Three Stars (leaderboard)
1. Carlos Boozer: 16 points (.800 TS%), 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks
2. Kyle Korver: 20 points (.769 TS%), 2 assists
3. Joakim Noah: 14 points (.717 TS%), 14 rebounds, 2 assists

Extra time for the Bench Mob and a solid win in a game that meant little for either team beyond the general desire to be playing well heading into the playoffs. Credit the Pacers for earning the No. 3 seed in the East, but they remain a furlong behind the top-seeded Bulls in overall quality.

Box Score

Record: 49-16, first in the NBA
Next: Thursday 4/26 vs. Cleveland, 7:00 CT

Game 64: Bulls 93, Mavericks 83

Three Stars (leaderboard)
1. Luol Deng: 22 points (.693 TS%), 6 rebounds, 3 assists
2. Rip Hamilton: 19 points (.594 TS%), 2 rebounds, 2 assists
3. Derrick Rose: 11 points (.611 TS%), 8 assists

Yes, this was a depleted Dallas team, but this was the sort of all-around quality I hoped to see from the Bulls with a week left before the playoffs.

Box Score

Record: 48-16, first in the NBA
Next: Wednesday 4/25 at Indiana, 6:00 CT

Rough Waters for the Booz Cruise

I’ve been yelling about the guy all season, so I’m just about spent of emotion on this topic, but in checking Carlos Boozer’s production against Miami this year, I noticed a sad but unsurprising trend:

In 20 games against Miami, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Indiana, Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia and the Clippers, Boozer has averaged 11.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.

Yes, I’m cherry-picking: He’s been great against Boston and Orlando and was OK in one game against the Lakers. But remind me who the Bulls are going to have to beat for the title?

Boozer 2011-2012 splits

4 games vs. Miami: 10.3 points, 8.3 rebounds per game

1 game vs. San Antonio: 8 points, 8 rebounds

1 game vs. Oklahoma City: 8 points, 10 rebounds

1 game vs. L.A. Clippers: 10 points, 6 rebounds

2 games vs. Indiana: 7.5 points, 7.5 rebounds per game

4 games vs. New York: 13.5 points, 10.0 rebounds per game

3 games vs. Philadelphia: 11.0 points, 7.3 rebounds per game

4 games vs. Atlanta: 14.8 points, 7.0 rebounds per game

Forget the contract. These are mediocre numbers for any NBA power forward.

(Illustration: Dustin P. Watson)

Game 63: Heat 83, Bulls 72

Three Stars (leaderboard)
1. John Lucas: 16 points (.450 TS%), 6 rebounds, 4 assists
2. Joakim Noah: 15 points (.982 TS%), 10 rebounds
3. Taj Gibson: 9 points (.699 TS%), 3 rebounds, 2 steals

Well, the offense was a goddamn disaster, but I’m just excited to see the Bulls and Heat get chippy with each other. Dwyane Wade and Rip Hamilton. LeBron James and John Lucas. Joakim Noah and … potentially, anybody who crosses his path. It’s a full-blown rivalry these days, and let’s hope we see seven games of it next month.

Box Score

Record: 47-16, first in the NBA
Next: Saturday 4/21 vs. Dallas, 7:00 CT