Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010
By Aggrey Sam
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Despite a sore neck, Derrick Rose expects to play in the Bulls game Saturday night against the Kings.
"It's up to Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. It's a little sore, but I'm willing to play through it," said Rose, who received a massage in the training room during Chicago's buzzer-beating Friday night loss to Denver. "It feels decent. We'll just have to see. I still have problems turning fast certain ways, but I think when I'm playing, I should not be thinking about it."
"I'm just trying to stay positive right now, just think that I'm going to play the whole game. C.J. Watson played great yesterday, so if I can't play, I know that he'll come in and back me up pretty good," added Rose, who later indicated the decision to play rested with him. "I'm going to go test it out now, shoot for a little bit and see how it is. If it's hurting, take a pill and still go out there and play."
Rose, received treatment -- electronic stimulation -- on the team's flight from Denver to Sacramento following Friday's game.
"He's doing a lot better today. He's going to go through pregame warm-up and if he's fine after that, he'll go," said Thibodeau. "Once he gets out there, if he feels good, we want him to play. But if he doesn't feel good, then we don't want him to play. If he's injured, he should sit. But if he's just hurting, then he should play. If he sits out -- like I said yesterday -- I'm more than confident in the guys that we have on that bench."
Thibodeau said power forward Taj Gibson -- who received limited minutes last night, getting pulled early in both the first and third quarters and never returning in either half -- would likely play.
"He's going to go through the warmup and if he's feeling fine, he'll go. He seemed like he was moving around OK at the hotel," said Thibodeau.
Newly-signed point guard John Lucas spoke to CSNChicago.com about missing two clutch free throws in Friday's loss, which enabled Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony to hit the game-winning basket.
"That game's over with it, it's behind us," he said. "I told them I'm sorry I let them down just because I make free throws. Like Coach Thibs and everybody told me, just move on to the next game. We've got Sacramento. You have no excuses. It doesn't matter about your flight or what you were going through that day. It comes down to knocking the shot down, knocking the free throws down with confidence. I went in there with a lot of confidence to shoot them. The second one, I knew it was in there, but when it hit the back of the rim -- it's a tough situation. I washed it off and moved on to this game.
"Everybody wants that opportunity to make that big shot -- that home-run shot -- and for me, to take the ball out, I'm always going to make the right decision to get the ball in because that's more important than anything else, especially when we didn't have any timeouts left," continued Lucas, who played for Thibodeau in Houston when the Bulls head coach was a Rockets assistant. "Just for him to put me in a situation like that -- just getting here -- shows a lot. I just apologize to my team. I feel like I let them down. I didn't just let my teammates down. I let the city of Chicago down and the whole organization."
Thibodeau explained his thought process for having the newly-signed guard in at crunch time late in the game in Denver.
"John is capable of inbounding the ball. He fulfilled that role for us in Houston," explained Thibodeau. "You base your decisions on the players you have available at that particular time. John was actually in C.J.'s position, C.J. was in Derrick's position and then Kyle Korver was the guy obviously we were trying to get the ball to.
"In those situations, John's an excellent free-throw shooter and I'm confident in his ability to make those. I've seen him make big free throws before. It didn't work out last night, but it will the next time."
As far as the seven-game road trip as a whole, Thibodeau isn't concerned about the Bulls' history -- or even recent history -- on the dreaded Circus Trip.
"Well, I don't want to look back and I think the big thing for us is looking at the game that's in front of us because that's what we try to do as a team. The big thing is coming into tonight's game concerned about Sacramento; the last game of the trip, making sure our focus stays on Sacramento and not thinking about going home. For the most part, I think our guys have done a great job with their attitude and their approach to each game," said Thibodeau. "There's good and bad with everything. When you look at where we are right now, there's a lot of areas we think we can do better in, so we want to continue to concentrate on our improvement. We've done some good things, I think we've shown some toughness, but there's some areas I think we can do a lot better.
"It's a probably a combination of a lot of things. The big thing is to develop the right mindset. You can win in any situation and if you look hard enough, you can find an excuse every night. That's part of the NBA -- the back-to-backs, the four games in fives nights -- everyone has to go through it and I think the real quality teams in this league find a way to overcome those things."
Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.