NBA: Banged-up Bulls fall to Pacers; add Rose, Deng to walking wounded
By K.C. Johnson
INDIANAPOLIS — Derrick Rose sat on a training table with his bruised left knee wrapped in ice and left without talking to reporters.
Luol Deng hustled his way to 18 rebounds but shot 5-for-14 with five turnovers and when he did speak to reporters, he warned his swollen left knee could sideline him for Monday night’s game.
There are nights in the NBA when a team plays flat from the onset. And with the banged-up Bulls playing their eighth game in 12 days Saturday night at Conseco Fieldhouse, their 100-90 loss to the Pacers proved a textbook example.
The Bulls turned in an incorrect active list pregame — inadvertently making Joe Alexander inactive despite Joakim Noah, Lindsey Hunter and Jerome James not being with the team — and things went downhill from there.
One night after an emotional, overtime victory over Trail Blazers, the sluggish Bulls shot 41.9 percent and committed 21 turnovers — seven more than their assists total.
They failed to hustle back in transition and trailed from the middle of the second quarter onward.
“We just didn’t have it,” guard Kirk Hinrich said. “Offensively, we weren’t sharing the ball. Defensively, we struggled to guard. It just seemed collectively the group didn’t have what it takes. We weren’t making any second-effort plays.”
Rose led the Bulls with 27 points but left with 2 minutes, 56 seconds remaining after banging knees with Earl Watson. Coach Vinny Del Negro said he didn’t believe the injury was serious.
Deng’s condition might be in the short-term. What is it with the Pacers and banging knees? Danny Granger, who scored a game-high 30 Saturday, made Deng his victim in these teams’ meeting on Wednesday.
“It’s a little sore,” Deng said. “I’m not sure about the next game. We’ll see how it responds (Sunday) after a day off.”
Some might argue the Bulls took Saturday night off.
Sixteen seconds after entering midway through the fourth, Deng drew a technical foul in a physical game after missing two shots and having a third attempt stripped.
“I felt like I had to speak up,” Deng said. “I don’t normally get techs but we weren’t getting calls. I was hoping it might wake up everybody.”
Despite the sluggishness, Hakim Warrick logged just 17 minutes.
“The matchup is tough for him because you have him on the perimeter guarding Granger,” Del Negro said. “They go really small. But they were more aggressive and physical. They had more energy.”