Chicago point guard Derrick Rose is a game-time decision for Sunday's game against the Thunder, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau told Chicago reporters Saturday.
Many believe Rose, however, will miss his 10th straight game with a groin injury. If the 2009 Rookie of the Year and reigning league MVP is unable to go, it will put a slight damper on a matchup of conference leaders and two of the game's top point guards.
“It's not tempting at all,” Rose is quoted as saying. “Where I'm worried (is) about my health right now. I think any ballplayer would want to play against a (team) like (Oklahoma City). But every game has been tempting. I just haven't been able to play.”
Rose is friends with Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, and Westbrook said he'd be bummed if Rose is ruled out.
“It definitely bums me out when a guy's hurt and not able to compete,” Westbrook said. “I know Derrick. He wants to compete. If he's able to play, he will play. Hopefully he feels better.”
Westbrook declined to compare and contrast his game with Rose's.
“But me and Derrick are good friends,” Westbrook said. “We've been working out for the last four or five summers since the draft. We definitely have similar games and we do different things for our teams.”
BULLS STILL GOOD WITHOUT ROSE
Even without Rose, the Bulls have been a problem for opponents for much of the season. Chicago is 14-5 without its All-Star point guard, who ranks seventh in the league in scoring at 22.8 points per game.
“Rose is one of the best players in the league,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “You give that team a lot of credit because they've overcome a lot of games without him. And coach Thibs is a great coach. They kind of have that same mentality. There's no excuses. You've got a job to do no matter who's on the floor … They are one of the hardest playing teams in basketball on both ends of the floor. You will see that (Sunday).”
WINNING AGAINST GOOD TEAMS
The most grueling stretch of the season isn't over yet for the Thunder.
But OKC has quickly shown that it is turning the corner and using this 14-game stretch that started March 13 and will last through Friday at Indiana to gain steam going into the playoffs.
The Thunder has won five straight and seven of its past 10. Every game was against a team currently in the playoffs or fighting for one of the final spots. Over that stretch, the Thunder has registered dominant wins against Denver, Portland (twice), the L.A. Clippers, Miami and the Lakers. OKC also gutted out a double overtime classic against Minnesota.
“It was a good challenge and it still is. We're still in the middle of that,” Brooks said. “These next four games are high-end playoff teams. Anytime you can play the best game after game after game you get better. And our guys have always been a team, a group, that likes to play big games. And they're getting better.”
Westbrook said the mounting wins are building confidence.
“It shows that we can win on the road and beat the elite teams, especially when we play our type of basketball,” Westbrook said.
Kevin Durant and his mother, Wanda Pratt, both said on Saturday that they did not join in on the recent “Lotto Frenzy” that swept the nation. The MegaMillions prize was more than $640 million … Chicago is a league-best 21-6 on the road this season. Oklahoma City is a league-best 22-4 at home. The Thunder, with eight road losses, also is the only other team to still have single-digit losses on the road … Former Oklahoma State standout John Lucas III is averaging a career-high 6.7 points, two assists and 1.5 rebounds in 13.5 minutes per game with Chicago this season. Lucas scored a career-high 25 points against Washington on Jan. 11. On March 14, in a four-point win over Miami, Lucas scored a team-high 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting in 27 minutes off the bench.
The Thunder will face the Bulls on Sunday afternoon at Chesapeake Energy Arena before hosting Memphis on Monday night. Sunday's game against Chicago is scheduled for a noon tip.