Feb 18, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls small forward Luol Deng (left) and point guard Derrick Rose (right) with "Benny the Bull" in the background during the second half against the New Jersey Nets at the United Center. The Nets beat the Bulls 97-85. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

Bulls Lose 97-85; No Need For Panic Yet

Bulls 85, Nets 97 — FINAL

Winning wasn’t the outcome of Saturday’s matinee for the Bulls but losing didn’t occur outside of the scores and that’s the main focus of Chicago right now. The team has been injury riddled all season long to this point and Chicago is just trying to preserve themselves as the going gets tougher.

That doesn’t excuse the gravity of the loss but it’s not as grab as you might think.

A loss to the Nets is never fun, but Chicago had one no unlike this last year and everything turned out fine in terms of keeping a potential championship season on the rails.

And if all else fails to calm the masses in Chicago then there is the massive crutch excuse of Derrick Rose being absent from the game.

But the Bulls that I’ve stood and defended against the knee jerk critics didn’t make my job any easier by getting trounced by a horrible Nets team on Saturday. Anytime you allow an opponent to get a 22-3 lead on you at home, that’s not doing your job. Regardless of Rose, that shouldn’t happen against anyone let alone one of the worst teams in basketball.

Right after you beat the critics who said you aren’t any good without Rose into the ground, you give them a softball like a 97-85 loss to the Nets to smash out of the park?

Come on Chicago you’re better then that.

But maybe they aren’t. Unfortunately the guys on the team not named Rose aren’t making a god case for those who think they’re nothing better then a schizophrenic lottery team sans Rose.

There is no need for panic in Chicago yet even as unnerving a 12 point loss at home is. The important thing now is to remain as healthy as humanly possible under the given circumstances. Rose needs his rest, Deng really should be taking it easy and Rip can keep his already cushy bench seat warm for the time being.

That’s because it’s February folks. The Bulls don’t need to really kick it into gear until at the very least mid-March. They are good enough a basketball team to skate by until then and still remain at the top of the league.

Then when Rose is healthy — which will be after the All-Star break at least — he can ease back in and still have enough time to shake off the rust before the playoffs.

In the meantime, the ride won’t be easy. Losses will be had. But at the end of the day what’s a loss to the Nets in February when you’re hoisting the trophy over your head in June?

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