Rip Hamilton can only hope the most memorable event during his homecoming wasn't an injury to Derrick Rose. Just when it seemed his return to the city he called home for nine seasons would be uneventful Rose drove hard to the basket, was fouled by Damien Wilkins and came down hard on his left elbow late in the Bulls 99-83 victory over the Pistons on Wednesday.
X-rays were negative but Rose had his elbow wrapped in ice and he was in obvious pain while dressing himself in the locker room after the game. A team spokesperson said Rose wasn't injured and therefore there would be no injury update.
"It's just like any other time when you fall," Rose said. "It's definitely going to be sore."
When asked if he would be able to play against Dwight Howard and the Magic on Friday, Rose said: "It's way to early [to know]. I'll be fine."
The Bulls are already down one point guard with C.J. Watson sidelined with a sprained left elbow of his own. Fortunately, they got Hamilton back before the game.
The veteran guard, who spent nine years with the Pistons before signing with the Bulls before the season, was applauded when he was introduced at The Palace of Auburn Hills, but only 9,125 witnessed his return, which had more to do with the state of his former franchise than his legacy as a key member of the 2004 NBA Championship team.
"I couldn't wait for the ball to be thrown up," Hamilton said. "There was a lot of emotion early in the game being on the visitors' side. I'm not accustomed to it in this building. I was just like, 'Man, don't start crying or anything crazy like that."
The Bulls thrilling comeback from a 19-point victory against the Hawks at the United Center on Tuesday night was a stunning turn of events. Their fifth-straight victory was more of a foregone conclusion.
Hamilton, who missed two games with an injured groin, drew a foul on a driving layup and made the free throw to complete the three-point play to give the Bulls an early 9-2 lead they would never relinquish. He later buried a 22-footer to give the Bulls a 57-37 lead with 10:11 left in the third quarter.
"I thought he handled the whole situation very well," coach Tom Thibodeau said of Hamilton. "He got himself ready to play and was focused. To start the game he came out and play made. He didn't try to do too much. That speaks of his experience."
The 42 points the Bulls scored through the first three quarters of Tuesday night's win over the Hawks was the lowest three-quarter total by a winning team during the shot-clock era. Thibodeau was more pleased with what his team did offensively against the Pistons as Carlos Boozer had 19 points and seven rebounds. Rose added 17 points and 10 assists while Noah had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
"A lot better," Thibodeau said. "The ball moved. Extra passes. Our spacing was a lot better. We ran the floor harder as a group. I liked the offense a lot."
The Bulls were as happy to get the win as Hamilton was to put his homecoming behind him, although there were so many empty seats that it didn't feel like the arena he remembered.
"It looked unbelievable," Hamilton said. "When I was here with Chauncey [Billups} and Rasheed [Wallace] we had seven years of straight sellouts. It was always great, always awesome, to come in here and see it half empty is tough, but a lot of things have changed. The economy is messed up."