The Bulls and prized rookie Rose, concluding what has been a tough seven-game road trip, get their first look at former No. 1 overall pick Brand in his new home when they face the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.
Chicago (7-9) went 33-49 last season, but got a fresh reason for hope when it won the draft lottery and selected Rose with the top pick in June.
Rose has been outstanding, averaging 18.4 points and 5.8 assists per game, but the Bulls continue to experience growing pains. Chicago has lost four of six since starting its trip on Nov. 18, and is 2-7 on the road this season.
Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro believes some of the reason for the Bulls’ problems is his attempt to get Luol Deng back in the flow the past two games after missing three straight due to a hamstring injury.
“Part of the trip was trying to get Deng back in the rotation,” Del Negro said. “I need to do a better job to get him more involved, early in the games especially, so hopefully his health will be good the next couple of days. But we need everybody right now, so we’ll go from there.”
Deng is one of nine former top 10 draft picks on the Bulls’ roster, but none is more celebrated than Rose, who grew up in Chicago. The point guard has shown immense talent in his first 16 games, but is coming off one of his worst efforts.
Rose managed one basket in the second half of a 98-88 loss to San Antonio on Wednesday night, finishing with 10 points. He was outscored 19-10 by Spurs rookie guard George Hill, the 26th pick in the draft.
Rose is the Bulls’ first No. 1 overall pick since Brand in 1999. The veteran big man was outstanding in two years with Chicago, but the Bulls won a combined 32 games during that span and Brand was traded in June 2001 to the Los Angeles Clippers, where he made the playoffs once in seven seasons.
Now Brand is trying to turn Philadelphia (7-9) into a winner after signing as a free agent this past offseason, but the 76ers have lost three straight and hardly look like contenders.
Brand had 18 points and eight rebounds against Boston on Friday night as Philadelphia lost 102-78. It was the lowest-scoring game of the season for the 76ers, whose previous low was 80 points in a loss to Utah on Nov. 11.
“We’ve been in this situation before, having bad losses,” said Philadelphia guard Andre Iguodala, who was limited to nine points. “When you have a loss like that, you can’t pinpoint one person or one thing. You have to look at yourself as one whole group effort. We have to play better.”
The 76ers have been held under 100 points in their last six games.
Philadelphia averaged 106.0 points per game against Chicago last season, winning three of four meetings.