Rose overcomes pain, leads Bulls to victory

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Rose overcomes pain, leads Bulls to victory

BOSTON -- Derrick Rose reached down to his left foot to secure the straps on his walking boot.

A walking boot for the player who sat out the previous game, scored 25 points, and led his team to fend off a comeback push by the Boston Celtics? Must be an MVP or something.

Rose missed Thursday's game against the Washington Wizards with a sprained left big toe. He said prior to Fridays game against the Celtics that he would fight through the pain, and he did.

Down by as many as 20 points in the game, the Celtics cut the Bulls lead to one, 67-66, with ten minutes to go. Then Rose took over. He scored seven points in less than two minutes -- a layup, followed by a pair of free throws, and a trey -- to halt the Celtics push.

After posting 13 points (5-15 FG) through the first three quarters, Rose scored 12 points in 11 minutes in the fourth. He shot 4-for-6, including 2-3 from three-point range, during that stretch.

I was missing shots before that, Rose said following the Bulls 88-79 win. I think shots that I usually hit, I was missing. A couple of wide open threes, layups I was missing. But I guess taking that day off, Ive just got to get my timing back and towards the end of the game they were just falling.

Rose credited his teammates for continuing to get him the ball. With the repetition came rhythm, and he settled into his shot.

All my shots were short and flat, he explained. The other ones that I shot towards the end, I made sure that I was getting a little bit of arc on them.

He later said, They were giving me the shot. I was probably out a little further than I usually am, but they didnt contest and I was just shooting.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau has come to expect performances like this from his star point guard. During Roses fourth quarter push, Thibodeau noticed his experience showing on the court.

I think hes gotten really comfortable with all types of defenses now, Thibodeau said. He knows where the holes are. Hell wait and hell attack the seam. He gets an open shot or a good look or hell create an open look for one of his teammates, and I think that comes with experience. He studies hard, he prepares himself well, and I think thats where he gets his confidence from.

And along with confidence comes endurance. After playing more than 39 minutes, Rose said wearing the walking boot feels comfortable. If there was any discomfort during the game, he blocked it out.

It's probably because my adrenaline was going and I wanted to win, he said. So anything is necessary."

Does uncertainty for Carson Smith mean Red Sox need bullpen help?

Does uncertainty for Carson Smith mean Red Sox need bullpen help?

BOSTON — Tyler Thornburg’s gone for the season and there’s really no telling when the other set-up man the Sox expected to help in 2017, Carson Smith, will be back.

The Sox have already made inroads, if minor ones, in bolstering their third-base situation and rotation. Smith’s situation leaves a question of whether the Sox will need to pursue help in the bullpen as well.

There's not an easy answer to settle on at this point.

For one, the timetable with the right-hander Smith — whose shoulder has bothered him on the way back from Tommy John surgery — isn’t clear.

“He's in a no-throw [time] through the weekend,” Sox manager John Farrell said Friday afternoon at Fenway Park. “He'll be reevaluated on Monday to hopefully initiate a throwing program. He's responding favorably to the treatment. He continues to rehab as he's been. We have not closed the book in a sense on anything Carson can contribute this year.”

What does this year mean, though? Will they be able to know by July, by the trade deadline?

“Still too early to tell,” Farrell said. “We thought he was days from starting his rehab assignment after his last live BP session in New York [on June 6]. Unfortunately, that was put on hold for the time being. To get into any kind of timeframes, timetables, I don't know that any of us can predict that right now.”

The Sox relievers have done extraordinarily well without either Thornburg or Smith. Can that continue without reinforcements? The bullpen’s ERA entering Friday was 2.94, the second best mark in the majors. Its innings total, 217, was the second. lowest in the majors. 

So it’s not like the entire group is about to collapse from fatigue. But a guy like Joe Kelly, for example, isn’t someone the Sox want to use back to back.

It’s a young group and ultimately an inexperienced group. But Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has already fallen into the trap of trading for premium set-up men twice, and that’s a dangerous road to pursue again. Perhaps a smaller trade makes more sense.

“Well, at this point, we’re open minded to help,” Dombrowski said when asked if he was targeting either third-base or relief help. “I’m not going to get into specifics at this time on what else we’re looking for. Keep an open mind on a lot of ways on which we can improve. We have guys coming back and both the spots, I think Carson Smith is very important to us and our bullpen has pitched great. The other day, we struggled but that was one of the few times we really struggled all year. 

“I think Carson still has a chance to come back and help us this year.”

Blake Griffin opts out of Clippers contract, becoming free agent

Blake Griffin opts out of Clippers contract, becoming free agent

According to multiple reports, Blake Griffin has opted out of his contract with the Clippers, making him a free agent. 

Griffin is considered one of the top free agents in a class that will also include Utah’s Gordon Hayward. The Celtics have been reported as possible suitors for both players. 

The first overall pick in the 2009 draft, the 28-year-old Griffin is a five-time All-Star, though injuries have limited him over the last three seasons. 

Over 61 games, the 6-foot-10 power forward averaged 21.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game last season. Between numerous injuries and a suspension for hitting a member of the Clippers’ equipment staff, Griffin was limited to just 31 games in the 2015-16 season. 

Adrian Wojnarowski said recently that Boston’s reception for Clippers teammate Paul Pierce made a very strong impression on Griffin. Though there might not necessarily be a connection between the two, Griffin said on Barstool Sports’ “Pardon My Take” that Boston is on his Mt. Rushmore of NBA cities.