The Bulls weren't accepting any excuses after their 98-82 shellacking at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers. But Sixers coach Doug Collins was gracious enough to offer them a few -- the most interesting of which was the notion that Bulls point guard Derrick Rose was sick.
Rose scored 18 points on 8-of-17 shooting, with six assists, four turnovers, one steal and one rebound. He missed two free throws (1-for-3). And he had no personal fouls -- only the second time in the past two seasons he has not fouled in a Bulls loss.
''I think Derrick Rose is a little under the weather,'' Collins said after the game. ''I'm not sure. I think at the shootaround it was my understanding he might have gone home or something. And they're on a nine-game road trip. I think they play back-to-back tomorrow night [they do, against the Knicks].''
Rose didn't appear to be under the weather when I talked to him after the game. He wasn't effusive, but he never is, even in the best of times.
It did seem unusual that coach Tom Thibodeau kept Rose on the bench for the entire fourth quarter after the Bulls fell behind 77-55 after three. But it also seemed like a prudent move on Thibodeau's part -- rare tacit acknowledgement that having Rose fresher for Thursday night's game against the Knicks is more important than a 1-in-10 or so chance at a comeback against the Sixers with most of his teammates in a collective funk.
''We had that 20-point lead [75-55],'' Collins said, ''and I just kept looking at the clock knowing that with 5:47 to go, and they were [down] 15 ... I just knew [Rose] was coming back. And when he didn't, I knew he probably wasn't feeling well.''