Derrick Rose, saddled with so many injuries in the regular season, appears to be facing one more.
The Bulls guard went down with an apparent left knee injury late in Chicago's 103-91 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon.
Rose, the reigning NBA MVP who missed 27 games during the regular season with a litany of injuries, had to be helped off the court with 1:10 remaining after driving to a jump-stop in the lane and throwing a pass out to the right,
He crawled slowly to the floor and was lying on his back, grasping at his knee, for several minutes near the baseline before he was helped off.
The tone of the game -- and perhaps the series -- suddenly turned, although it wasn't immediately clear what the injury was.
"I would be guessing," said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau when asked if he knew what it was.
Before he left, Rose shook off an early funk to get 23 points, nine rebounds and nine assists as the Bulls opened their second straight postseason as the NBA's No. 1 overall seed.
A few runs here and there was all it took to keep the Sixers at bay, despite Evan Turner's contention that his team lucked out by drawing the Bulls instead of the Miami Heat.
The Bulls were up 12 points when Rose went down. He was set to have an MRI.
"I sure hope he's not seriously hurt," said Sixers coach Doug Collins. "I admire him so much. He's one of the bright lights in the NBA."
Richard Hamilton scored 19 points, Luol Deng had 17 and Joakim Noah added 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Bulls, who also had the No. 1 overall seed last year but were eliminated by the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.
Elton Brand had 19 points and seven rebounds to lead the Sixers. Jrue Holiday scored 16, Thaddeus Young added 13 and Turner had 12 points.
The Sixers scored six straight points to open the second half, climbing within five, but Rose led a 9-0 Bulls run that allowed the favorites some breathing room.
He scored five straight points during the burst on a pair of free throws and a three-pointer, then knocked down another three midway through the quarter to make it a 14-point game.
The lead reached as high as 16 and was 79-66 going into the fourth quarter.
Things got physical late in the third after Bulls forward Carlos Boozer bumped into Turner during a stoppage. Following some pushing and shoving, Rose and Hamilton for the Bulls and Brand for the Sixers were all called for technical fouls.
No punches were thrown, but Turner was booed often by the Chicago crowd after telling a newspaper this week that the Sixers were "dodging the tougher team" by drawing the Bulls instead of the Heat in the first round.
Turner, who is from Chicago, was probably referring to the Sixers' 0-4 record against the Heat in the regular season. They were 1-2 against the Bulls, who went up by as many as 20 points in the fourth quarter of this one and shot 51.3 percent for the game.
"That was the best they've played us all season," Collins said.
The Bulls, who had a 28-24 lead after the first quarter, also made a 9-0 run with Rose on the bench after the Sixers tied the game in the second.
Deng scored the first five points, including a three to spark the burst, and Chicago pushed its lead to 37-28.
Rose was just 5-of-13 for 10 points in the first half, but the Bulls led by as many as 13 late and took a 53-42 advantage into the break after shooting 52.3 percent.
The Bulls went 50-16 and would have homecourt advantage through the NBA Finals...The Sixers went 35-31 for the No. 8 seed. They shot 39.8 percent in Game 1.