Here are my observations about this game and the implications it might have.
Those close to the team and Rose himself expressed concern about the play of the Bulls vs. the Magic.
Stacy King, former Bulls player and now TV color man, said, the Bulls needs to emphasize “execution and defense.” “The took their foot off the accelerator” and let the Magic get back in the game, King noted. You can’t give a young athletic team a chance. They played tough and the Bulls appeared to be soft exactly when it called for them be on purpose, playing with intensity.
In other years, on other Bulls teams, this loss would be inconceivable. The Bulls played almost suffocating defense, tight defense… and made you pay if you even dared to get close to the rim. Now, it was an open drive to the tin that did the Bulls in and spoiled Derrick Rose’s return to playing time.
As we move toward the playoffs, the Bulls are tied with the Raptors for the 3rd seed, and have a game lead over the re-rejuvenated Washington Wizards. If Washington finishes in the 4th seed they would have home court advantage and the Bulls might have an early exit in April.
It is a fragile situation for Chicago. King said, the Bulls have to play tougher, more focused basketball. That is a trait that other Thibodeau coached teams had. This one might have the talent, yet lack the drive. In this league, you can’t win on talent alone.
Reporters asked Rose a lot of questions about his health. He responded by saying,”I’m more concerned with us losing than anything.”
It would be disappointing to see an early exit by the Bulls with a healthy Rose playing. But that looks more of a possibility than it did before.