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Monday, February 25, 2013
Cavs' Irving still waiting to face Rose

By Nick Friedell

CHICAGO -- Kyrie Irving can't believe that after nearly two seasons in the NBA he has never faced Derrick Rose in a game.

Because of various injuries, the pair has never played against each other -- and unless a miracle happens, the first time won’t be Tuesday night when the Cleveland Cavaliers face the Bulls.

"Yeah, it's crazy," Irving said recently. "But he's been hurt or I've been hurt. So it's part of the game."

Irving has exploded this season, becoming an All-Star by averaging 23.3 points, 5.6 assists and 3.6 rebounds a game while Rose hasn't played as he continues his rehab from a torn ACL in his left knee. Like everybody else, Irving is hoping that Rose returns to the floor soon. Irving said he watched Rose as he made his way into the league.

"Absolutely," he said. "(I'm a) big fan. Big fan. He's one of the most explosive guys in our league and his basketball IQ is off the charts as well."

So what did Irving make of Rose's recent comments that he might sit out the season if his knee still wasn't feeling right?

"Honestly, that's something that every player faces," Irving said. "Like (Rose) said, it's about him feeling comfortable. You definitely don't want to go out there not comfortable with your game. And the confidence that you once had, you don't have it, especially with a knee injury like that. I just wish him the best. Obviously, I really wish he could get back to what he was before -- an MVP-caliber point guard."

Having dealt with several injuries of his own, Irving knows it's a tricky mental and physical process trying to return to the floor.

"I would say both," Irving said. "A combination of both definitely. Getting used to playing back-to-back nights, getting used to that grind, that NBA grind, it takes a while. I don't know what an ACL injury feels like, but something like that, it takes a while. It takes six months or a year."

Bulls hope to continue dominance against Cleveland: An interesting stat to keep in mind in advance of Tuesday's game from ESPN Stats and Info:

The Bulls have won 11 straight regular season games against the Cavaliers. They Cavs are 0-10 against the Bulls since LeBron James left. They had been 16-12 against the Bulls in the regular season with James.