If last week’s three overtime games in a row – 2-1 in those contests – weren’t enough to put the Bulls on the map, just take a look at this week.
On Monday night Chicago blew out and embarrassed the Lakers 95-83 on national TV.
Two Bulls starters – Luol Deng and Joakim Noah – were named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team Thursday night.
On Friday night, backup point guard Kirk Hinrich posted a career-high 25 points as the Bulls dismantled the red-hot Golden State Warriors 103-87 at the United Center.
Tonight Chicago is in D.C. to take on the Wizards, looking for their seventh win in eight games. A Bulls victory and a loss by the New York Knicks at Philadelphia would place the Bulls in a tie for second place with NY in the Eastern Conference.
Oh, and Derrick Rose returned to practice this week. There’s always that. Rose tore his ACL on April 28 in the Bulls’ first playoff game against the Philadelphia 76ers in heartbreaking fashion. But that hasn’t changed Chicago’s motto this season: bend but don’t break.
When (or if) Rose would return this season has been a highly debated and well-documented topic. Too many variables were in play early on for any return date to be concrete. But according to Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson, Rose plans to be their trade deadline acquisition.
“You’re always on the lookout to do certain things, but I think our move hopefully will be bringing Derrick back into the fold,” Paxson said Friday on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN Chicago 1000.
For comparisons sake, Ricky Rubio of the Minnesota Timberwolves (who tore his ACL on March 9) was seen running sprints back in early October during training camp. He began practice in early December and returned to action shortly thereafter on Dec. 15.
Reports started to surface in early December that Rose was beginning to participate in shooting drills and sprints. So while nothing is imminent, if Rubio’s recovery is any indication, he would appear to be right on track for a post-All-Star return to the court.
An ACL injury is different for every player, though, so it’s hard to base expectations for Rose off the results of somebody like Rubio, or say Adrian Peterson, who suffered a similar injury last year. We all know how that turned out.
“We don’t have the defined plan yet because Derrick is still progressing,” Paxson said. “The way he feels and what his body tells him is going to dictate how we do things. But I can tell you one thing — and this is for certain — he’s going to have to have a high volume of practices and contact and where he’s comfortable on the floor doing things that he used to do naturally. And that takes some time and he’s just starting that process now.
“We can’t sit here today and say he’s going to be back in three weeks or after the All-Star break. Those things are a hope, but his body is going to tell us and then when we get to that point that’s when we’re going to have to sit down and determine, after we talk to our doctors and everything, then determine our gameplan of minutes and how best to bring him back.”