By K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune –
NEWARK, N.J. — Derrick Rose dominates headlines even when he doesn’t play.
The Bulls absolutely annihilated the short-handed Nets 108-87 on Monday night at the Prudential Center, but Rose commanded the spotlight after sitting out the second half with lower back spasms.
Rose complained of soreness during his electrifying, 35-minute performance on Saturday night in Milwaukee, participated in portions of Sunday’s practice and started Monday’s game. But he drew two fouls in the first 2 minutes, 56 seconds — the second, an offensive foul away from the ball, caused Tom Thibodeau to erupt on official Violet Palmer — and winced when he landed following a second-quarter layup.
Rose finished with four points, two turnovers and zero assists in 10:40 and left for good at the 2:54 mark of the second quarter.
“I feel all right, just back spasms,” Rose said. “Ain’t nothing to worry about. (Tuesday), we have a day off. Get treatment. Get a massage. For right now, I’ll be playing next game. It’s nothing like I’m going to be sitting out. I always try to think positive.”
Rose said the pain actually has bothered him since before the Jan. 30 game in Washington.
“I’m a guy who’s not flexible,” he said. “If one thing fails on me, especially if it’s tendinitis in my legs, it tends to make you use other parts of your body more. The last couple of days, it’s been my back.”
Otherwise, all remained right in the Bulls’ world.
They sank 11 of their first 12 shots and finished the first quarter at 76.5 percent before settling for a 55.6 percent. For the second straight game, they sizzled from beyond the arc, connecting on 9 of 15 3-pointers. And they posted 23 fast-break points.
“The ball is moving,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “There are a lot of quick decisions being made. Everyone is sharing the ball. It’s great.”
Carlos Boozer scored 22 points in just 27 minutes, leaving late in the third to get a cut above his right eye closed with four stitches. He returned late in the fourth.
“I would’ve came back sooner, but the (Nets’) doc had to go get the stitches,” Boozer said. “That might’ve been strategic.”
C.J. Watson, Rose’s replacement, added 14 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds in 39 minutes for his second career double-double.
“C.J. was terrific running the team,,” Thibodeau said.
The Nets dressed just nine players and the Bulls jumped on the injury-plagued team. Luol Deng, playing his second game with a torn ligament in his left wrist, scored 13 first-quarter points without missing a shot, including three 3-pointers.
“I feel great,” Deng said.