- George Hill will miss a third consecutive game with a sore hip, keeping C.J. Watson in the starting lineup against his former Chicago teammates. Hill participated in portions of practice Monday but was ruled out after an individual workout Wednesday. “Better, but not quite ready,” coach Frank Vogel said. “He’s literally day-to-day. We thought there was a chance he could go tonight. He’s better, not quite there yet, hopefully he plays Friday.”
- Watson started 25 games for the Bulls in 2011-12, averaging 11.3 points and 4.6 assists. He also had extensive practice time against Derrick Rose. So to whose advantage is that experience? “Familiarity will help some but Derrick Rose is a unique athlete,” Vogel said. “Just because you know him doesn’t mean you’ve got all the answers.”
- Rose received clearance from the NBA to use protective tape to help stabilize his sore neck. The tape was originally banned but the league reconsidered. “Anything that makes him more comfortable, I’m in favor of,” said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.
- Though Rose has struggled thus far, averaging 14.3 points, shooting .288 overall and producing more turnovers (17) than assists (13), neither coach believes that’s anything other than a short-term hiccup. “Great players always figure it out,” Thibodeau said. “Some shots aren’t dropping for him, that doesn’t mean they won’t drop tonight or the next game. If he’s not shooting well he’s got to find other ways to help us, which he’ll do. We have great faith in him. We have no doubt that he’ll come around. Some of it is just being out there playing in games.”
- Said Vogel: “I don’t look at it like he’s been struggling. It’s only been three games. We’re always leery. I think he’s capable of going for 40 every time he’s out there.”
- With Danny Granger out at up to two more weeks with a strained left calf, Lance Stephenson will remain in the Indiana starting lineup. As well as he has played (16.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists, .531 shooting), might Stephenson remain in the lineup when Granger does return? “Who starts and who doesn’t is less important to me than who’s getting the most minutes,” Vogel said, “and the way Lance is playing, Lance is going to earn the bulk of the minutes.”
– Conrad Brunner