Derrick Rose sat on the bench, showing little emotion as the Bulls lost.
On the court, his teammates showed they need Rose to get well--soon.
Boston put a halt to the Bulls' five game winning streak Sunday, answering every run thrown at them in a 95-91 win at TD Garden.
Give the Bulls credit. They put up a fight without their leading scorer and floor leader in Rose and gave the surging Celtics a scare, but they didn't have enough in the end.
Rose's absence not only hurt the Bulls on the offensive end, but also on defense. Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo ran wild on Rose replacementC.J. Watson, posting a triple double of 32 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds.
"It's killing me not being able to play or when I do play my minutes are definitely down," Rose said. "Not being healthy is definitely getting to me, especially missing this game. I just have to stay positive."
Clearly, the Bulls are not the same team without Rose, but Sunday's game also showed they have the talent to compete with the NBA's top teams. The Celtics, while not as formidable as they have been in recent years, entered the game as winners of seven of their last 10.
The two teams will meet again Thursday at the United Center, where the Bulls are 9-1. Revenge will be on the Bulls' minds, no doubt.
Until then, though, the Bulls will have to live with this tough loss. And like Rose does after an L, Bulls players just might blame themselves for falling short with the game on the line. If they need help assessing their performance, here is RedEye's report card for Sunday's game.
Noah scored 16 points and had nine rebounds in 35 minutes of work, and he played solid defense. He seemed to draw fouls almost every other trip down the court and was active in the paint.
Booze was a force offensively, pacing the Bulls with 22 points, but he was a liability on defense. Coach Tom Thibodeau subbed him out several times in the fourth as the Bulls tried to mount a comeback, and Boozer missed a wide-open Watson late in the game with the Bulls down by three with 27.6 seconds left.
He was the leading scorer with Carlos Boozer at 22 points, but he failed to contain Rondo, who had a triple-double. And in the waning moments, Watson took two ill-advised shots—one a driving layup with the hoop clearly defended and a long two-pointer with defenders in his face. Not Rose-like.
Yes, he's playing hurt, but the just-named All-Star didn't play like an All-Star. Deng was invisible in the game-deciding fourth quarter, scoring just five points—two of them after the game was decided.
The Turkish Hammer was only on the court for 10 minutes, and that might have been a good thing. He just seemed ... lost. His five rebounds were key, and he had a big block on Ray Allen, but he had no offensive presence (2 points).
We need a lot more Hot Sauce in 19 minutes of action than what we got: three points, one assist, five rebounds.
Eight points in 11 minutes of action, including two 3-pointers, which were pretty big at the time. Still, he hoisted up nine shots. Noah only shot 10 times in 35 minutes.
He started and played 33 minutes, but he didn't make much of the court time, scoring just five points to go along with six assists and three rebounds.
Three points. Five rebounds. Zero assists in 13 minutes. That's not what Bulls fans are accustomed to from the Bench Mobsters.