Collins understands Thibs' decision

Doug Collins remembers a game that might have inspired Tom Thibodeau to leave Derrick Rose in the game Saturday. Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty Images

CHICAGO -- Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins continued Tuesday to defend Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau's decision to have Derrick Rose on the floor with 1:22 remaining in Game 1.

Rose tore his left ACL with the Bulls leading by 12.

Collins backed Thibodeau's decision by recalling a game in 2004 when Tracy McGrady scored 13 points in 35 seconds to lead the Houston Rockets to a one-point win over the San Antonio Spurs. Thibodeau was an assistant on the Rockets' staff.

"As a coach, you never forget those things," Collins said. "Sometimes when you're gauging on who should be out in the game and who shouldn't, coaches knows what they need to know. And that's why with Thibs, I think it would be very, very unfair to throw any criticism his way over Derrick Rose being hurt. Had he got hurt the first minute of the game, nothing would be said.

"We have long memories as coaches. You remember those games. I remember watching it. I think Thibs was on that staff with Jeff Van Gundy. When you have games like that, you never forget them."

Collins said he has often kept his own players on the floor late into games even with a large lead.

"I error on the side sometimes of keeping guys in the game too long because I know if you ever take a player out of the game with a big lead you can't bring him back because they shut it down once they go out," Collins said. "It's just human nature for a pro athlete. That's what they do."

Collins also said he wasn't surprised Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was named the NBA coach of the year. Collins had said last week Thibodeau was his front-runner for the award.

"You could vote for four or five guys," Collins said. "You could vote for Pop. I'd vote for Thibs. I thought Alvin Gentry did a great job in Phoenix. There's a lot of guys who do a good job. They do a damn good job. I have so much respect for these guys in this league. Like I said the other day, Saturday, Thibs was coach of the year last year and very likely could have been this year."