Chicago, IL – Derrick Rose, saddled with so many injuries in the regular season, is facing one more.
His team's season changed in a hop.
Rose tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee late in Chicago's 103-91 Game 1 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday afternoon and will miss the remainder of the playoffs.
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 changed, as did the series when the Bulls announced hours later the extent of Rose's injury.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau defended having Rose on the floor so late in the game by noting that his team's lead was going the wrong way -- the Sixers had cut a 20-point deficit in half in about 3 1/2 minutes and it was at 12 when Rose was hurt.
Thibodeau, who waited until after the 8:00 mark to sub Rose into the game in the fourth quarter, said he wanted his star guard to work on closing games.
Injuries, the coach said, are just something that happens.
"It's part of the game. There are going to be injuries. A guy could get hurt in practice, a guy could get hurt in the first five minutes of the game, he can get hurt at the end of the game. He can get hurt any time, and you've got to deal with it," Thibodeau said.
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.
Sixers coach Doug Collins, despite his team's improved chances with Rose out of the series, hoped afterward that the guard wasn't seriously hurt.
"I admire him so much," said Collins. "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 took a 1-0 lead in the series, but must now run the gauntlet through the rest of the playoffs without one of the league's best players.
"He's the MVP of the NBA," said Noah. "So it's tough, but there's basketball to be played."
Said Thibodeau: "He's had a lot of injuries this year. It's been unfortunate, but we do have more than enough to win with. Whatever the circumstances are, we'll deal with it."
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.