The Chicago Bulls won the battle on Saturday as they defeated the Philadelphia 76ers at the United Center 103-91; however the victory became a secondary issue for the team, as the squad lost the services of their All-Star point guard Derrick Rose for the rest of the season after he tore his left ACL with just 1:22 left in the contest. The injury ends a season for last season’s NBA MVP in which he was hampered by injuries throughout the campaign; as well as greatly diminishes the Bulls chances of capturing their first NBA Title since the Jordan era.
Rose was the leading scorer of the game with 23 points, just missing racking up a triple-double before he got hurt while Richard Hamilton added 19 points in the victory. Elton Brand led the way for the Sixers with 19 points for the contest while Jrue Holiday put up 16 points in the loss.
Chicago jumped out to a healthy advantage in the opening period, however Philadelphia would close the gap to within striking distance down the stretch. Lou Williams drained an outside jumper with 10 seconds to play and the Bulls lead was just 28-24 at the end of the quarter.
The Sixers would tie the score early in the second, however the Bulls quickly took back the upper hand and started to pull away during the period. Chicago center Joakim Noah tipped the ball into the cylinder with 36 seconds to play in the quarter and the Bulls entered the locker room as the contest reached the half on top 53-42.
Chicago remained in control throughout the third as they never allowed their opponents to get closer than being five points down in the quarter. Taj Gibson knocked down a pair at the line with two seconds on the clock and the Bulls held a 79-66 advantage heading into the fourth. Philadelphia trailed by as many as 18 points early in the fourth but they would get their deficit down to just ten points late in the period, which caused Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau enough concern that he left Rose in the game. The Sixers however were never able to get back to within single digits and the Bulls won the first game of the series.
Rose would end his season with a game high 23 points, 9 assists, 9 rebounds, a block and a steal. Hamilton scored 19 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds while Luol Deng added 17 points and 6 rebounds. Noah racked up a double-double with 12 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and a steal while Kyle Korver came off the bench with 11 points, 4 rebounds, an assist and a block.
Brand knocked down 19 points, 7 rebounds, 4 blocks and a steal while Holiday had 16 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and a block. Thaddeus Young came off the bench and added 13 points while Evan Turner had 12 points coming off the pine and Andre Iguodala chipped in 11 points in the loss. Chicago will host game two of the series Tuesday night.