Both Rose and Gasol are still questionable for Monday's game against the Utah Jazz. So is Kirk Hinrich, who is still recovering from bruised ribs suffered in Thursday's loss to the Sacramento Kings. Thibodeau said Hinrich would participate in "some" of Sunday's practice. Bulls power forward Taj Gibson has been sent back to Chicago to have his injured left ankle checked by team doctors.
As for Rose, who has now missed four straight games because of a hamstring injury and eight overall this season, Thibodeau remains convinced that the former MVP will be able to shake off the rust that has hovered over his game.
"You just have to take it as it comes," Thibodeau said before Sunday's practice. "So whatever the circumstances are, we're going to make the best of those. We'll see where Derrick is today after he practices. And hopefully he'll get to a point where he can string some games together. And when that happens, the rust will come off. From what we've seen thus far when he's been out there, he's looked great, so we just got to get him out there."
Thibodeau was noncommittal in regard to whether Rose is closer to playing than where he was after the initial hamstring injury happened Thursday against the Toronto Raptors.
"It's hard to say," Thibodeau said. "He's moving a lot better, so from that standpoint [it's good], but I want to see where he is today after practice."
For his part, Gasol sounded optimistic about his chances of playing on Monday. He originally got hurt over a week ago in a loss to the Indiana Pacers.
"I'm feeling a lot better," Gasol said. "I was able to do some running [Saturday] on the court. Do some shooting on the move. Did a little work and it didn't flare up, have any setbacks so [that's] perfect. So I think we're on the right track, and today I expect to go a full practice."
As for Gibson, Thibodeau said he is expected to be day-to-day after being checked out by team doctor Brian Cole. Gibson, who has been dealing with left ankle injuries for the past couple of seasons, reinjured the ankle in the third quarter of Friday's loss to the Trail Blazers. He had X-rays after the game that were negative but left the Moda Center on crutches and a walking boot.
"The encouraging thing is there was not much swelling," Thibodeau said. "So we'll go from there. I don't want to play doctor. Dr. Cole will make that determination."
PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Chicago Bulls' night of misery began about an hour before their 105-87 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers even started on Friday night. After a slow bus ride to the Moda Center full of traffic and cold rain, the Bulls' players and coaches filed into the quiet visitor's locker room. As players began heading out to the court, one main sound was audible above the din of the noises that accompany a team in the midst of a long two-week, coast-to-coast trip.
It was the sound coming from Derrick Rose's leg compression machine.
Almost a year to the day Rose tore the medial meniscus in his right knee in the same building, Rose laid on the ground with both of his legs in compression sleeves, quietly watching videos on his cellphone. He didn't play Friday night because of ongoing left hamstring issues, but the reminders of what had occurred a year before were fresh in everyone's memory.
Every time the Bulls come to Portland lately it seems as if something bad happens. Friday night's game was just the latest example of that. Damian Lillard dominated a depleted Bulls' squad that was also playing without Pau Gasol (strained left calf) and Kirk Hinrich (bruised ribs). The Bulls came into the game having lost eight of their last 10 games in Portland, giving up an average of 101.5 points in each contest according to ESPN Stats & Information. After the Trail Blazers' latest triumph, the Bulls have now lost seven straight games here.
Aside from the loss, the bigger issue on this night for the Bulls was the fact they lost Taj Gibson to a sprained left ankle that could keep him out a little while. Gibson had to be helped off the court by his teammates in a scene similar to the one Rose endured last season. While Gibson's ankle injury isn't nearly as serious as Rose's knee injury was, it had to feel like déjà vu for Bulls' personnel to see Gibson head to the locker room on crutches and in a walking boot after the game. A year earlier, it was Rose who stood on crutches in the back of the visitor's locker room staring into a mirror and wondering about his own future.
"I don't get caught up in that stuff," he said. "Injuries are part of the game. If a guy gets hurt, he gets hurt. But it's not the building, it's not any of that stuff. Injuries are part of the game so you just deal with them."
His players understand that, but they didn't feel the same way about the bad mojo that seems to come their way every time they play in Portland.
"F--- this place," one player muttered in the locker room as he peeled off his jersey.
As much as Thibodeau may not want to admit, the injury to Gibson only reinforced the bad feelings the players have when they walk into this building after seeing what happened to Rose a year ago.
"This is the NBA," Bulls center Joakim Noah said. "It sucks that guys get hurt. But you just got to keep going forward, the games keep coming, and nobody feels sorry for you, so you just got to keep going and we just got to get better and hopefully Taj gets better soon."
In a strange twist, when Gibson hobbled his way back to the locker room after injuring his ankle in the third quarter, one of the first people he saw was Rose, who had been sitting in the locker room during the game. After dealing with all the ups and downs of another year of rehab on his knee, Rose's message to Gibson was clear as they talked in the same building in which the former MVP's season ended.
"He was just saying to me, 'It's that same ankle that's been bothering you.' " Gibson said of his talk with Rose. "I was like, 'Yes.' He said, 'You just got to be patient. You really got to get on top of that. It's a long year. You can't sprint to the finish line already. You got a long fight, you just got to be smart and get back fully healthy.' "
After another meltdown against the Trail Blazers, that sounds like sage advice. Rose understands Gibson's pain better than anyone -- and that's why it should come as little surprise that Rose was the first player to exit the locker room late Friday night. He wanted to get out of the building as quickly as possible.
So did the Bulls.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Blazers, who led by as many as 28 points for their sixth straight victory.
Rookie Nikola Mirotic had season highs with 24 points and 11 rebounds for the Bulls.
Chicago lost forward Taj Gibson in the third quarter when he sprained his left ankle. The Bulls were already limited without Derrick Rose, who missed his fourth straight game with a sore left hamstring. Pau Gasol missed his third game with a left calf strain.
The injury took place midway through the third, and Gibson fell to the floor writhing in pain. Moments after Gibson went down, the entire Bulls bench went out to check on the veteran forward. He was carried off the floor by teammates Nikola Mirotic and Nazr Mohammed and was barely putting any weight on the foot or ankle.
After the game, Gibson said X-rays taken on the ankle were negative. He came back into the Bulls' locker room on crutches and in a walking boot. Gibson said it was the same ankle he has had problems with over the past couple seasons and the same one he injured in the Bulls' home opener on Oct. 31 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Gibson said there is no timetable right now for his return.
"It's too early right now," he said. "I'm frustrated. Just re-aggravated it, just hurt it again. I'm just frustrated."
Gibson sounded as if he would be more cautious with his approach in regard to his return after his latest setback.
"It's the same lingering injury," Gibson said. "Just keep trying to play through it, trying to be there for my teammates. Just push through. All summer I was trying to rehab the same ankle and it just keeps flaring up. I keep having these little bum ankle turns. And I just took some time off from it and tried to rush back and this thing happened again. I'm just frustrated."
The entire episode must have felt like déjà vu for Bulls personnel. Friday's game is almost a year to the day since Derrick Rose
PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Chicago Bulls were without Derrick Rose (strained left hamstring), Pau Gasol (strained left calf) and Kirk Hinrich (bruised ribs) against the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.
It marked the fourth straight game Rose has missed because of the hamstring he initially injured in last Thursday night's win over the Toronto Raptors. It is the eighth game Rose missed overall; he missed four games earlier in the year after spraining both of his ankles.
"(He's) just day-to-day," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said of Rose's status. "It's just the same. Same stuff."
Rose declined comment before the game, through a Bulls' spokesperson. It is almost a year to the day that Rose tore the medial meniscus in his right knee against the Trail Blazers in the Moda Center.
Hinrich had X-rays after Thursday night's loss to the Sacramento Kings that came back negative. He took a couple hard shots to the chest, including taking a charge from Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins, but the veteran guard said that his ribs are what's bothering him the most. The Bulls initially listed Hinrich as having a chest contusion.
"(I'm) very sore," Hinrich said before Friday's game. "Just one of those things. I got banged up pretty good last night and just didn't recover. Didn't have enough time to recover for tonight."
When Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau shakes hands with Blazers counterpart Terry Stotts before Friday's game, he might want to ask Stotts how Portland keeps rolling out the same lineup game after game. Like Thibodeau, Stotts leans heavily on his starting lineup, yet his players absorb the heavy minutes seemingly without repercussions. If player availability were really under a coach's control, Thibodeau would certainly love to discover the secret.
Stotts has been more egregious than Thibodeau when it comes to pushing the minutes of his starters, though the coaches are more similar than different in that regard. Over the past three years, the Blazers have ranked 30th, 28th and 30th, in terms of average minutes per reserve. Thibodeau's Bulls have finished 24th and 25th the past two years, respectively, but have moved up to 20th this season despite the ongoing injury plague in Chicago. The injury issue is where the coaches differ. Last season, the Blazers used just two different starting lineups all season, and had four players start all 82 games, though this season Stotts has already used three different starting lineups. The Bulls, meanwhile, rolled out 17 different starting lineups last season, and this season the total has already climbed to six.
There is a good reason Stotts has been so reluctant to go to the reserves: his benches the past two seasons have not been good. As for Thibodeau, despite the constant upheaval in his starting lineup, he has managed to extract extraordinary value from his reserve units. And he's done it more with quality than quantity.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Joakim Noah was about to lose it -- again.
WIth 4:30 left in the third quarter in the Chicago Bulls' loss to the Sacramento Kings, Noah couldn't believe he was called for a foul on Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins. It was a "ticky-tack foul," as Noah called it. The whistle set off a tantrum that had the emotional Bulls center jumping around the floor and almost instantly picking up a technical foul.
For the second straight season at the Sleep Train Arena, Noah was on the verge of being ejected from a game. Last season produced arguably the most emotional outburst of Noah's career, in which he cursed at all three officials and was fined $15,000 for "verbal abuse" of the officials.
"Yeah, s---- two years in a row [being ejected] wouldn't have been good," Noah said. "Just disappointing that we lost and -- I got to keep my cool."
For the first time all season, the Bulls looked emotionally rattled in front of a packed house. This was the third straight year they've lost to the Kings in Sacramento and it seems like several Bulls players, not just Noah, got spooked by a fan base that appears to be revitalized by a new ownership group and a better team.
"We have a lot of emotional guys, but we do have to control that," said Jimmy Butler, who led the Bulls with 23 points. "But it's tough, there's a lot of emotion in this game and it happens at times. You can't be mad at that. But we got to control it better next time."
Noah just wants to keep everything simple.
"Just breathe," he said of the mindset he takes to reign his emotions back in. "You have to breathe and think about the big picture. It's a lot harder said than done. Just breathe. Have positive thoughts."
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau knows that's a fine line to straddle for Noah and the rest of his team. Like his players, the veteran coach didn't agree with many of the calls made by the officials, but that's all part of what the Bulls have to deal with as they continue on this two-week road trip.
"Jo's an emotional guy," Thibodeau said. "You don't want to take that away from him. You're on the road, you're not going to get calls. It is physical out there. It's just the way it is. There's some frustration to deal with, but we still got to find a way to pull that out in the end."
Even Noah had to praise the way the Kings have started coming together as a group this season.
"They're a good team," Noah said. "They're a very good team. They play hard at home. I think that they're starting to build something over here. Defensively they're better. DeMarcus is a lot better. He's playing more efficiently. Sometimes he gets frustrated and that works in our favor. But I feel like this year he's the one getting guys frustrated, and it's worked for them so we'll see them again.
"We'll see them again at home and we'll be ready for that one, but you can tell there's been a lot of growing on his side as a player."
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Joakim Noah can be forgiven for his full-scale toy store aisle tantrum that earned him a third-quarter technical. The Sacramento Kings are a frustrating team to face. They thrash inside the paint, physically overwhelming the opponent, grabbing fistfuls of free throws. The league's newest team out of nowhere has a Chicago Bulls-esque charisma to them. They win ugly, and beautifully so.
Sacramento took only six 3-pointers in their 103-88 win over the Bulls. That was fine because they made 19 at the rim regardless. He might be the strongest star in the sport, but DeMarcus Cousins is nimble enough to find those creases around a crowded rim. His 22 points on 19 shots wasn't a superficially great performance, but he drained Chicago.
It worked, at times, but the Kings did well to share the ball.
"Big Cuz is getting doubled almost every single game so far," Kings guard Darren Collison said. "I think our spacing's probably been the best, today. We talked about spacing last game, and this game our spacing was probably a bit better. And DeMarcus made some really, really nice passes to Ben McLemore for the 3 or a cut to Omri Casspi."
The compliments flow both ways between Collison and Cousins. When asked about his point guard, the burly big man said: "He's got my respect. I love him."
Cousins also had plenty of compliments for the coach on the opposing sideline. Thibodeau might be to blame for this loss, but not exactly how one might assume.
"I respect Thibs a lot," said Cousins, who played for a USA team that had Thibodeau as an assistant coach this past summer. "I learned a lot from him over the summer. He's basically a genius on defense. I mean I think our whole team basically flows from his defensive scheme over the summer."
Cousins spent much of the summer learning from Thibodeau and bonding with Kings teammate Rudy Gay. The results are paying off.
When pressed on the biggest thing he learned from Chicago's coach in these last FIBA World Championships, Cousins answered, "Just being vocal. Talking."
The big man has the best view of the floor on defense, and thus, the most responsibility. Communication is essential, and Cousins is doing more of it this season. That much was clear throughout the game when Cousins could be seen directing traffic, informing his guards of assignments and coming screens.
We're not yet sure how good these Kings can be, or whether success will be sustained. For now, they're talking to each other, enjoying each other and collectively animating themselves into a force to be reckoned with. Thibodeau may have created a monster.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- DeMarcus Cousins had 22 points and 14 rebounds and Rudy Gay scored 20 points to help the Sacramento Kings beat Chicago 103-88 Thursday night, snapping the Bulls' six-game road winning streak.
Jimmy Butler had 23 points and Taj Gibson, Mike Dunleavy and Aaron Brooks had 12 each for Chicago. Joakim Noah had 10 points and 11 rebound despite foul trouble. The Bulls played the second game of a seven-game road trip, their longest of the season.
Chicago was trying to win its first seven road games for the first time in franchise history.