CHICAGO // The Chicago Bulls have been down this route before.
Derrick Rose missed 27 games with a variety of ailments during the regular season and the Bulls survived, going 18-9 without him and eventually clinching the East's top seed by having the conference's best record.
Yet as the league's reigning MVP was wincing in pain on the court there was a collective gasp in the arena just minutes in to the fourth quarter.
Later came the news that his season was over, which started the wondering if the Bulls will follow right behind him ahead of the second game in their play-off series against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday.
Rose had started the night slowly, hitting just one of his seven shots in the first quarter, but by the time he left he had scored 23 and had the crowd on their feet.
"He looked like he was having fun," said his teammate Taj Gibson on NBA.com. "He was back to the old Derrick."
Rose crumbled to the ground after he drove the lane. He was going for a layup when he came to a jump-stop and seemed to change his mind, passing to a teammate before an awkward landing.
Team medical personnel immediately rushed out and tended to Rose for several minutes as he was writhing in pain near the baseline before helping him to the locker room.
"My heart kind of dropped," Richard Hamilton, the Bulls shooting guard, said on NBA.com.
US cable network TNT, who was broadcasting the game, reported on air that he had been taken to the hospital where an MRI scan confirmed the worst - an anterior cruciate ligament tear.
"We want him on the floor for a lot of reasons, not just so we can win championships," said Kyle Korver, the Bulls small forward, on NBA.com. "It's been such a tough year for him with injuries ..."
Rose also contributed nine rebounds and nine assists. Hamilton added 19 points, Luol Deng scored 17 and Joakim Noah (12 points, 13 rebounds) had a double-double for Chicago.
The Bulls simply overwhelmed the Sixers and looked like a team gearing up for another big run after losing to Miami in the conference finals last season. They earned home-court advantage throughout the play-offs for the second successive year and looked like a championship contender in this one, right until the end.
The 103-91 win gives Chicago the first game of the play-off series, but reports coming out of the Bulls locker room after the game said the mood was sombre.
Reporters questioned Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls coach, on the wisdom of playing Rose so much when Chicago had control.
"The score was going the other way. He's got to play," Thiboudeau bristled. "Derrick has to work on finishing, on closing. Our team did not handle that part great.
"That's what I was thinking."
Now the thinking is they are finished.
KNICKS NOW EVEN MORE SHORT-HANDED
The Chicago Bulls are not the only team who will be missing a player heading in to Game 2 of the NBA play-offs first round.
The New York Knicks reported before the start of their Game 2 against the Heat at Miami on Sunday night that their rookie guard Iman Shumpert will miss the rest of the post-season after tearing a left knee ligament in New York's 100-67 loss to the Heat in their play-off opener on Saturday.
The Knicks announced Shumpert also tore his lateral meniscus.
Surgery will be scheduled in New York and Shumpert is expected to miss approximately six to eight months.
Shumpert, who started the final 17 games of the regular season after Jeremy Lin had knee surgery, was bringing the ball up the right sideline and tried to dribble behind his back when he pulled up and immediately grabbed at his left knee.
As he was lifted from the floor the Knicks star Carmelo Anthony looked at the scoreboard, shaking his head in disbelief.
Shumpert was brought into the Knicks' locker room for evaluation and later to a hospital for an MRI scan.
Lin had a lengthy shooting workout before the game but there was no word if he would be active before the start of Game 2.
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