Derrick Rose, held out of the game with a sore back, watches his teammates at the United Center.
While Derrick Rose sat on the bench, the New Jersey Nets jumped out to a 22-3 lead. It must be how Peyton Manning felt watching the Colts get clobbered all year.
In the end, the Nets drubbed the Bulls 97-85. The Bulls hung their heads and made half-hearted apologies. Just one game. Just one misfire.
Now that Rose appears ready to return, are we cool with this?
Make no mistake, Rose is a special player -- the straw that stirs the proverbial drink. But the Bulls should know better than to fumble around like the Washington Generals in his absence. The great teams overcome injury. The mediocre ones are scuttled by it.
This is where you'd expect a Rip Hamilton to come in handy. He's got veteran experience. He'd be able to put a team on his back for a short time. But what's happening without Rose and Rip? It's embarrassing.
There will be games in the playoffs where neither Rose nor Rip can get a shot off. And that's when someone ... anyone will need to step up and grab the rock. Remember how the championship Bulls were bailed out by Steve Kerr or John Paxson when Pippen or Jordan faced double-teams?
Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah or Luol Deng should be more than capable of taking over a game when duty calls.
Even if Rose returns tonight, let's hope those guys learn how to lead before the playoffs.