CHICAGO -- Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose arrived at the United Center on crutches Tuesday, lending moral support as his team took on the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Rose, who tore his left ACL with 1:22 left in Game 1 on Saturday, brought the game ball to the officials for the opening tip, and he was met with a standing ovation, which included the Sixers players and coaches. He limped off the court as the crowd continued to cheer.
The night didn't end well, however, for the home team as the Sixers evened the series with a 109-91 victory.
"It's great," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said of having Rose with the team. "The more he's around, the better. He's already thinking ahead.
"The more Derrick's around, he's a leader. The important thing for us is to understand it's what we think. It's not what anyone on the outside thinks. It's what our team thinks. I think that he can lead vocally, he'll be into the game. He's into his teammates. He cares more about winning than anything else, so it's great to have him here."
As the Bulls prepared to play the 28th game without the reigning MVP, they found some confidence in having done it before, and having done it successfully with an 18-9 record before Tuesday.
C.J. Watson started in place of Rose.
"This is not the first time we're playing without him," Thibodeau said. "I think experience does help. We've had 27 games in which he didn't play, and there's a handful of others he played very limited minutes.
"You don't replace the individual greatness of Derrick with any one player, we do that collectively. But C.J. has shown that he can run the team and run it well. John Lucas has played extremely well when he's been called upon. To succeed in the playoffs, you have to play intelligently, we have to play to our strengths, cover up our weaknesses, and that's whether Derrick's there or not. How we play is not going to change. We know who we are; we're a defensive team, we've got to rebound, we've got to take care of the ball ... everyone has to understand just do your job, do your job, that's all we have to do."
ESPNChicago.com's Nick Friedell contributed to this report.