The Chicago Bulls may have kept their playoff hopes alive on Thursday night courtesy of a crucial 103-100 win over the Houston Rockets, but the Windy City franchise didn't escape Texas totally unscathed.
Derrick Rose, the team's starting point guard was forced to sit out the entire second half of the Toyota Center encounter due to pain in a bruised left elbow. Rose had been listed as probable heading into the Rockets game having originally picked up the injury in Chicago's Tuesday night matchup against the Indiana Pacers.
The three-time All-Star logged just 11:57 minutes vs Houston and, for the first time in his NBA career, he failed to register a shot attempt, let alone a made basket. Speaking after the game, Rose admitted the pain was too much to play through.
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"I tried to just give it my all while I was out there, but it was sore," the point guard said, via the Chicago Tribune.
"I'll try and get back out on the court as quick as possible, but I'm just listening to my body. I'll get as much treatment as I can and see where it goes from there."
Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg revealed after the game that it was his decision to keep Rose on the bench during the third and fourth quarter. Considering the 27-year-old was effectively forced to play entirely with his right hand when he was on the court, it was a sensible decision.
Nevertheless, with Chicago in the midst of a four-way battle for the final two seeds in the Eastern Conference, they can ill afford to lose Rose for the games ahead. The Bulls currently sit one game behind the Pacers in ninth spot in the East.
With Taj Gibson (ribs) a doubt to return before the regular season is done, and the likes of Joakim Noah having long been out the rotation through injury, Chicago need all hands on deck as they look to avoid missing out on the NBA playoffs for the first time since the 2007-08 season.
On a personal level, Rose has been at his healthiest since the 2010-11 season and recently played in his 62nd game of the season - one more than he managed in the three previous seasons combined.
Although still struggling to find the form that saw him named the 2011 MVP, he has averaged 16.5 points, 4.7 assists and 3.4 rebounds this season and has been one of the Bulls' few consistents in a frustrating campaign.
Next up for Chicago is a home game against the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night. With their opponents currently occupying the seventh seed in the East, the Bulls can ill afford to be without Rose for that one if they are to remain in contention for the postseason.