PHILADELPHIA— Usually, when this many Bulls go down, someone in a suit of lights is hiding a sword in a cape in a ring.
Losing Derrick Rose in the first game of the 2012 NBA postseason was enough injury to last any team, even the league’s No. 1 overall seed, a liftime. (Actually, the most common prognoses for torn ACLs are in the range of six to nine months.)
But then Joakim Noah was rolling his left ankle on a break up the lane. Taj Gibson was lying on the court grabbing at his right knee. And in the most uncomfortable moments of all, it was Noah again, back in the game despite his ankle sprain, limping up and down the court and lugging that leg as if Jeff Van Gundy were hanging off the bottom of it.
And then there was their Game 3 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers 79-74 Friday, a defeat that left them down 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
This most assuredly is not what the Chicago Bulls saw for themselves in this postseason. They look battered, bloodied, bummed out, bushed and very close to bowed.
The Bulls had posted the best record in the league, weathered multiple injuries and pulled things together, seemingly, just in the nick of time. They were 46 minutes through a breezy Game 1 victory over Philadelphia – then Rose went down. And pretty much everything since, even that fool’s gold of a first half in Game 2, has gone the wrong way since.
It was too soon to know immediately after Friday’s game how badly Noah was hurting – he made thousands in the building and millions watching on TV wince as he labored and grimaced through several possessions. Gibson seemed to shake off his knee pain.
But the Bulls are in trouble, facing a feisty and healthier young Sixers squad that, never mind that eighth-seeded stuff, has boundless confidence after winning the last two.