Game 1 of an indefinite run without their star point guard comes Sunday on the road against the Los Angeles Clippers, one of the NBA's best home teams.
In just his 10th game back after missing last season while recovering from a torn left ACL, Rose suffered a medial meniscus tear in his right knee Friday night in Portland. The injury will require surgery, and there's no timetable for Rose's return.
"I feel bad for him," said Clippers power forward Blake Griffin, who tore his meniscus in college. "The good news is it's not nearly as bad as what he went through (before)."
In 99 combined regular-season and playoff games without Rose from May 1, 2012 to May 15, 2013, the Bulls went 51-48. From the start of his MVP 2010-11 season through his ACL tear on April 28, 2012, they were 122-43.
As if losing Rose wasn't enough, the Bulls (6-5) also blew a 21-point lead in the 98-95 loss to the Trail Blazers. They were outscored 34-12 in the third quarter.
Rose scored 20 points to lead the Bulls before leaving with 3:20 left in the third and being helped to the locker room.
"He's a strong guy," Bulls forward Taj Gibson said. "He worked extremely hard this summer trying to get his body right, working out every day."
Rose's 15.9 points per game rank second on the team behind Carlos Boozer's 16.2. Rose had been shooting just 35.4 percent from the floor.
As a team, the Bulls have shot 37.9 percent over their last three games and have lost two in a row for the second time this season.
Chicago's backcourt was already short-handed with Jimmy Butler sitting out a second game with turf toe. He'll miss the entire six-game road trip.
Clippers point guard Chris Paul's job for Sunday was just made considerably easier.
"It's sad, knowing how hard he worked to get back," Paul said of Rose.
The Clippers (9-5) started a three-game homestand with Saturday's 103-102 win over Sacramento. Paul hit the go-ahead free throw with 2.5 seconds left and finished with a team-high 22 points.
"We've got to put teams away and not keep being in all these dogfights," Paul said. "It was kind of fitting we won with a defensive stop because we've been trying to improve our defense. Hopefully it gives us some confidence."
He failed to post a double-double for the first time this season after rattling off a league-record 13 straight games with at least 10 points and 10 assists to start a season.
Los Angeles has won six of seven at home and is averaging 114.0 points at Staples Center, though the last five games there have been decided by an average of 4.4 points. The Clippers went 32-9 at home a season ago.
Their 107.0 scoring average ranks among the league's best, while the Bulls are holding teams to 94.3 points per game and 40.4 percent shooting.
Without Rose, the Bulls lost both games against the Clippers last season, including a 21-point loss in Los Angeles on Nov. 17, 2012.
Chicago won both matchups in 2011-12 with Rose averaging 30.5 points.