SAN ANTONIO -- Derrick Rose thought he was in trouble. He collided with Spurs' guard Tony Parker midway through the first quarter and crumpled to the ground clutching his right knee. The Bulls' championship hopes laid on the ground with him as a city held its collective breath. As he lay on the ground, Rose assumed the worst.
"For sure, when I first hit him," Rose said. "It was a lot of pain in there. But after laying down there for a little bit, I got up, I was good."
Much to the delight of Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, who admitted that he was feeling very uneasy on the bench when he saw Rose go down.
"I didn't want to look," Thibodeau said. "Any time he goes down ... but the same thing holds true for any player. And it was a bang bang play ... but usually he bounces up pretty quick, so I was a little concerned."
Rose, who finished the game with a team-high 29 points, admitted that he was understandably a little sore after it was over.
"It's just basketball," he said. "Where you're going to bump each other. Bump knees with him. [I'm] a little sore, but was able to play through the game."
Rip returns for round two: For the second game in a row, Rip Hamilton started and played almost 16 minutes. After sitting out a month because of groin and thigh issues, Hamilton still looks rusty, but he says he's feeling much better.
"I feel good," Hamilton said. "The biggest thing with me is getting to different spots on the court. And I feel good about getting to wherever I want to get to on the floor. Now when I get there, my rhythm, my timing, I'll get better as I'll be out there, but the key thing with my leg is I'm able to get to where I want to get to out on the floor. And that's the most important thing and I'm happy with it."
Hamilton acknowledged that the transition back into the lineup is made easier due to the fact that the Bulls are so deep.
"It's great because it enables Thibs for me to play me (in different situations)," he said. "I play like the first eight of first quarter and the first eight minutes of the third. And we're able still to win. And that's huge because I ain't got to be thrown in the (dogfight). When you've got great teammates like I have and guys that are producing it's awesome for me."
Hamilton said coaches have told him that his minutes will be increased incrementally over the next few weeks.
"It's a gradual thing," he said. "That's what they want. Just don't be in such a rush. And we're winning so that's the benefit. That's the luxury that we have in this situation. Guys are really playing well and stepping up so it enables me to be able to be [in] a slow process other than a fast process."
Quotes of the night
"It was like a playoff atmosphere where there goal is the same as ours. And that's to win a championship. Do whatever it takes. And that's what I tried to do out there, do whatever it takes to win that game," - Rose, on winning in San Antonio.
"I was hearing that last year when I was in Detroit. The regular season is a great time also. It's not just the playoffs. It's a situation [in] the regular season you can get acclimated with your teammates. You want to start rolling going into the playoffs. You don't want to just turn it on when the playoffs start. You want to be moving forward and playing well going into the playoffs," - Hamilton, on the notion that he was only brought in to produce in the playoffs.