The most dreaded words in the Bulls vocabulary this season were once-again used by coach Tom Thibodeau to describe Derrick Rose's status for Tuesday night's rematch against the Knicks at the United Center: Game-time decision.
Rose twisted his right ankle in Sunday's overtime loss to the Knicks. That game marked his return after missing 12 straight games with a groin injury.
Rose said he injured his ankle in the second quarter of Sunday's loss when he stepped on what he believes was the foot of Landry Fields. Although his ankle was hurting he remained in the game.
"You know how I am, if it's a close game or a game I want to get I'm going to continue to play and it made it a little bit worse," Rose said. "It's just an ankle sprain. Hopefully, I'll be over it in a couple days."
Rose said his ankle began to throb when he sat out before returning to the game in the fourth quarter.
"That's why I was walking the ball up the majority of the time," he said. "I wasn't running because it was throbbing. I was just trying to win the game. It definitely hurts losing the game and sitting out this game, if I do choose to play or not to play. It's definitely going to hurt. That [Knicks] game hurt a lot."
Rose wore a walking boot Monday and twice came to the Berto Center for treatment on his ankle. He also received treatment Tuesday morning but did not participate in the team's shootaround. He was to undergo more treatment after the shootaround and again before tonight's game at the United Center.
Although he didn't rule himself out of tonight's game, and he said his ankle has improved after every treatment, he admitted it remained swollen and was painful.
"I remember driving the middle," Rose said when asked how the injury occurred. "Fields was right there. I was thinking about passing and I just felt my ankle turn. I threw the ball and Taj [Gibson] ended up catching it. He gave it back to me. I couldn't move. I threw it to Lu [Deng] when he was under the basket. I don't know what happened after that."
The Bulls have nine games left in the regular season to regain chemistry before the playoffs begin. Rose and backcourt mate Rip Hamilton have missed significant time this season and both have been rusty since returning.
Rose had 29 points and eight turnovers against the Knicks.
"It's huge, especially right now," Rose said of getting everybody healthy. "We have to catch a rhythm. I've been out the majority of the year with all these injuries. Other players have been out. If anything, we're happy we're still together. This is basically the same team as last year. We know everybody's tendencies on this team. We know how to play with one another but it's going to take a little time for us to gel."
Rose has missed 22 games this season with toe, back and groin injuries.
"This is the first time ever in my life I've been injured like this," he said. "It's definitely frustrating missing all these games. I'm just trying to stay positive and keep my head up."