Blazers come into town/Knicks minus Noah again
The New York Knicks (6-7, 3rd Atlantic Division) 10 point win over the Atlanta Hawks (9-4, 1st Southeast Division) Sunday night without the services of Joakim Noah. They will really be severely tested tonight against the Portland Trailblazers (8-7, 2nd Northwest Division) duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.
“Not only Lillard, but that whole team,” Knicks guard Derrick Rose said. “They’re playing well. We know what Damian can do. McCollum is playing great, he’s becoming an All-Star-type player, and it’s a challenge. That’s what this league is about, challenges every night. It’s going to be different matchups and it’s about how you approach it.”
“I talked to him [Noah] this morning. He’s still feeling not so great. So we’ll see [Tuesday] morning if he’s any better,” coach Jeff Hornacek said Monday.
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Rose missed 12 straight games with a strained right groin and has been sidelined 22 times this season because of a variety of injuries.
Coach Tom Thibodeau said the point guard would probably play a “little shorter than normal” but wouldn’t know for sure what Rose could handle until he got on the floor.
“He’s handled the practice part of it well. He’s done a great job with his conditioning, he’s taken on the contact, he’s been fine with that, and so we’ll just see how he is once he’s out there playing,” Thibodeau said.
Rose last played March 13, scoring 32 points to lead the Bulls to a 104-99 victory over the Knicks. He’s also been sidelined this season by back and toe injuries.
“What he’s done in the past whenever he’s missed time, he’s always come back very strong and picked things up very quickly, so he’ll be OK,” Thibodeau said.
The Bulls had the reigning MVP in the lineup for the afternoon tip with Richard Hamilton, Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng for the first time since March 5 against Indiana. Hamilton left that game in the opening minutes with a right shoulder injury and only recently returned.
The Bulls are 9-1 with their top group.
Despite the injuries, Chicago entered the game with an NBA-best 43-13 record. The Bulls had 10 games left in the regular season, counting Sunday’s opener of a home-and-home series.
“You only can control what you can control,” Thibodeau said. “Injuries are part of it. The good thing is that a number of guys had an opportunity to play and that’s the way you have to look at it. Derrick and Rip are fresh, so that’s good, and now they have to get their time.”