Despite Derrick Rose's tenacity, he finally succumbed to his toe strain in today's 102-86 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. Rose injured his left big toe during the first quarter of the Chicago Bulls' Tuesday night win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Richard Hamilton still did not return due to his groin injury, while C.J. Watson came back from an elbow injury.
John Lucas, who had done so well against the Washington Wizards when Rose was out, scored only eight today. It was at least encouraging to see Luol Deng put up 20 points and get six rebounds, while Boozer scored 13 and got seven rebounds.
Rudy Gay scored 24 for the Grizzlies, Mike Conley got 20 and Marc Gasol scored 19. Even though the Grizzlies played a solid game, it is still troublesome that the Bulls lose so badly when Rose is not a factor for them. This loss puts them at 12-3, while the Grizzlies strike even at 6-6. The Bulls go home to play the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, while Memphis faces the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday.
The Orlando Magic overcame the New York Knicks at home today in a 102-93 win. Ryan Anderson had a career afternoon putting up 30 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Dwight Howard was a little underwhelming, scoring only eight points and getting 10 rebounds. He struggled again with free throws shooting only 2-of-9. J.J. Redick, in his first start of the season, had a big game for the Magic too, knocking down 21 points and shooting 8-of-12 overall.
Carmelo Anthony was huge again, putting up 33 points and getting eight rebounds. Amar'e Stoudemire only scored 10 and got two rebounds. This is a rough game for the Knicks to lose, putting them at 6-7 before they face the Suns at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. Orlando now has an excellent record of 9-3, as they prepare to play the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day elicited concern for the Bulls as long as Rose is out, but reaffirmed Orlando's position as a top team in the East. As the New York Knicks continue to struggle with their identity and wrestle with consistency, their road is rough ahead.
Rose should return soon for the Bulls, allowing them to pursue the continuation of their quest for a title. Howard needs to play a better game than he did today against tougher Eastern teams like the Bulls and the Miami Heat. Look out for him to return with a vengeance.