Despite injury, Rose still a presence for Bulls

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Despite injury, Rose still a presence for Bulls

Derrick Roses dramatic return to the public eye didnt quite go as planned.

The reigning league MVP appeared relaxed and in good spirits - whether or not getting a haircut is any indication of how someone feels or not is debatable, but if the 23-year-old had a woe is me mindset, it wouldnt make much sense that he would care about his personal grooming - as he trudged down the United Center hallway, crutches in tow, before Tuesday nights Game 2 of his Bulls first-round series against the 76ers.

Rose would address his teammates and discreetly make his way on to the court, then the bench and finally, before tip-off, present the game ball to the officiating crew. The assembled crowd seemed stunned by his presence, but also didnt seem to know what to make of it, as the ovation for the fallen hero was more muted and less deafening than one would expect, though the All-Star point guards teammates considered his words of advice inspirational.

Its always great to have him. No doubt in my mind, its always great to have our leader in here, said John Lucas III, one of Roses closest friends on the team. He said a few words and told us what we had to do, go out there and play our heart out, and get this W.

Unfortunately, despite Rose returning to the United Center for the first time since suffering a devastating, season-ending torn left ACL injury in the waning moments of Saturdays Game 1 win - he sat in a luxury suite with his family and close friends during the contest - the Bulls were unable to pull off the victory in his honor. Except for the second quarter, in which Lucas and Joakim Noah truly energized the crowd, the energy level in the arena, a staple throughout the regular season, was mostly dormant.

Its hard to stand when youre down by 20, but our crowd, we have some of the best fans ever, reasoned Lucas. Theyre going to stick beside us through thick and thin, and I felt like we let them down today.

Afterwards, a sullen locker room reflected the teams emotion and as much as they have tremendous personal affection for Rose as both a player and a person, they refused to use his absence as an excuse for the loss, echoing their mantra for the entire campaign.

Derrick is not here. This is a different team, snapped fellow All-Star Luol Deng. Weve been through it. Weve played a lot of games. Theres a lot of games that weve won. You guys can go back and watch them, how we won them. One guy doesnt have to get out of character. Were a team and were going to get it done together.

While he wasnt on the court or available to the media following the defeat, Rose did make an appearance in the locker room and addressed the short-handed squad.

Recounted Lucas: Hes our leader and he was like, Get your heads up. Its just one game. The series isnt over. Its just beginning.

Honda Road Ahead: Cubs offense looks to build off showing against Clayton Kershaw

Honda Road Ahead: Cubs offense looks to build off showing against Clayton Kershaw

CSN's Kelly Crull and analyst Dave Otto discuss the upcoming matchups and Kyle Schwarber's slump in this edition of the Cubs Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland & NW Indiana Honda Dealers.

The Cubs haven't received any California love so far on their six-game road trip. 

At Dodger Stadium this weekend, the North Siders were swept away in three games that were never really close. And, now, Joe Maddon's club must regroup on the fly as they head to San Diego to open a three-game set with the Padres on Monday. 

If it's any consolation prize, the Cubs' bats did show signs of life against three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw on Sunday. They roughed him up for 11 hits and four earned runs. 

"I liked the at-bats that the Cubs had against Kershaw and the Dodgers today," Dave Otto said following the Cubs' 9-4 loss in the series finale. 

To salvage a decent road trip, the offense has to find some sort of consistent groove. The lineup was shutout twice in Los Angeles. 

Watch the video above to hear Kelly Crull and Dave Otto break down the upcoming series and the slumping order. 

 

Jon Lester vs. Clayton Kershaw doesn’t live up to expectations as Dodgers sweep Cubs

Jon Lester vs. Clayton Kershaw doesn’t live up to expectations as Dodgers sweep Cubs

LOS ANGELES – In a Cubs season that has already gone off script – or at least not followed the dynasty-in-waiting narrative – it made perfect sense that a Jon Lester vs. Clayton Kershaw matchup at Dodger Stadium would devolve into a slugfest and a bullpen battle.

Randy Newman’s voice – “I Love L.A.” – blasted from the sound system late Sunday afternoon as the Dodgers put the finishing touches on a three-game sweep of the defending World Series champs. The Cubs led for one half-inning during this entire weekend and will wake up in San Diego on Memorial Day as a 25-24 team.

This 9-4 blowout again showed that the Dodgers should be a force in October. Forget about the way forward-thinking manager Dave Roberts basically tried to MacGyver his way through last year’s National League Championship Series with three pitchers – Kershaw, lefty curveball specialist Rich Hill and star closer Kenley Jansen.

“That’s the big separator between what I saw last year and right now – how they’re pitching,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.

It didn’t matter that Kershaw got knocked out in the middle of the fifth inning after Willson Contreras, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo launched home runs and the Cubs generated 11 hits off the three-time Cy Young Award winner.

Kershaw still outlasted Lester, who dropped his head, stared at the grass and walked off the mound with one out and two runners on in the fourth inning. The Cubs had earlier fallen into a 6-1 deficit after Lester gave up two three-run homers to Cody Bellinger and Kike Hernandez.

In back-to-back shutouts, the Dodgers (31-20) had already beaten a Cy Young Award winner dealing with questions about his velocity and looming free agency (Jake Arrieta) and a three-time World Series champion who’s 38 years old and now has a 5.18 ERA (John Lackey).

“It’s always tougher the second time, because everybody’s gunning for you,” said Ben Zobrist, who should be back in the lineup on Monday after missing two games with a sore left wrist. “Your expectations are even higher than they were before.

“But this team is definitely equal to the task. That’s not the problem as much as we just got to get back to the fundamentals and execution of the little details in the game. And everything else kind of takes care of itself.”