Injury-hit Bulls should not lose hope-Pippen

The injury to the reigning National Basketball Association's(NBA) Most Valuable Player in Chicago's playoff opener has left a gaping hole in the team's lineup and shakes up the Eastern Conference playoff bracket.

"You're still the best team in the NBA until an opponent proves otherwise. So go out there and play like it."

Rose, who was sidelined during the regular season with a variety of issues, including back spasms and a pulled groin, is expected to miss up to nine months recovering from a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

The 23-year-old guard suffered the injury with 82 seconds left in a 103-91 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday that gave the Bulls a 1-0 series lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final.

"You could lose sight of the ultimate goal and give up before the rest of the games have even been played," Pippen wrote. "But I know that's not even a consideration for this group.

"To a man, it's time for each of you to take a look in the mirror. Decide who you really are and what you represent as a basketball player. Reflect on what you have brought to the table for your team all season long and why you're a valuable member of the Bulls."

(Writing by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Steve Ginsburg)