By Chris Hayre
One thing the Chicago Bulls won’t be on their upcoming seven-game road trip is homesick.
What started Monday night with Pau Gasol notching a double-double in the first quarter progressed into Derrick Rose leaving the game before halftime with an injured lower back and right hamstring. The night ultimately ended in an 89-84 defeat to the Miami Heat, the Bulls’ fourth straight loss at the United Center.
“We struggle at home a lot more than we do on the road, so it’s always a good time to be on the road, right?” said Gasol when asked if the longest road trip of the season has come at the right time. “To me we should be a much stronger home team, but we’re not.”
The Bulls, now 16-9 at home, shot 39.8 percent from the field and were outscored 28-16 in the fourth quarter. Dwyane Wade led the Heat with 28 points as Miami won for just the second time in nine games. For Chicago, Rose’s exit in the second quarter made a bad situation at point guard worse.
“Derrick had a little bit of soreness before the game and unfortunately he went down,” Hoiberg said. “We were short-handed going into this one at the point guard spot, so that didn’t help.”
Kirk Hinrich has missed the last five games with a left quad contusion. Hoiberg said Rose, who has missed six games due to injury this season, would be reevaluated Tuesday morning. Jimmy Butler, who scored 13 points on 5-for-15 shooting, didn’t use Rose’s injury as an excuse for Monday’s fourth-quarter collapse.
“We’re still expected to win games,” Butler said. “Guys gotta step into his role and do what we’re supposed to do. Yeah, we need [Rose] out there though.”
Gasol ended the night with 19 points, 17 rebounds, but most of his damage was done in the first quarter. It was his 25th double-double of the season, but not enough to push Chicago to its 26th win. The Bulls offense went stagnant in the second half and Butler acknowledged they should have stayed with the hot hand.
“We gotta get him the rock,” said Butler of Gasol. “Whenever a guy’s making shots like that, you gotta make the defense guard him.”
After a six-game winning streak that spilled into the new year, the Bulls haven’t won consecutive games since Jan. 7 and have lost seven of the last 10. Six of seven opponents on the upcoming road trip, though, are below .500, starting with the 9-37 Lakers on Thursday.
“It’s a challenging position, but you find true character in people and teams when they’re facing adversity, and let’s see how this team responds,” Gasol said.