Andres Nocioni's hard foul on Richard Jefferson late in the first half of the Bulls' 112-104 overtime victory at the United Center prompted a minor scuffle in which Kirk Hinrich shoved Jefferson in the back and Luke Ridnour then pushed Hinrich.
Derrick Rose, off to an impressive start with seven points and two assists, played just five minutes before succumbing to a strained right hip flexor.
On a night Ben Gordon sat again with a sore left toe, Luol Deng rested his sore back, Larry Hughes wore a sling on his dislocated right shoulder and Tyrus Thomas played four minutes because of a sore ankle, Rose suffered his injury with 7 minutes 19 seconds left in the first quarter.
After Jefferson fouled Rose when the speedy guard turned Dan Gadzuric around on a fast break, Rose landed awkwardly and came up limping. He later rode a stationary bicycle near the bench but didn't return.
"It's nothing serious," Rose said. "I could've gone back in, but they kept me out as a precaution. My leg was caught behind me, and all my momentum was going forward. I should be fine."
Gordon never started, making it official that he will play in just one exhibition before the regular season begins Tuesday night against the Bucks.
"It's a concern," coach Vinny Del Negro said. "He's not in game shape. Ben is a student of the game who will pick things up fast. Hopefully, he'll get two or three practices before Tuesday and get some work in."
Gordon made it clear he had wanted to play Tuesday in Dallas and Wednesday in Minneapolis, but Del Negro sat him down. Nevertheless, Gordon acted nonchalant and said he didn't think it was odd.
"I'm playing Tuesday; that's all I know," Gordon said. "I'm injured. They want me to get better."
Who gets it going in the starting lineup is anybody's guess because of injuries and experiments. Del Negro tried his first look at the starting backcourt of Rose and Thabo Sefolosha, bringing Kirk Hinrich off the bench for the second straight game.
Hinrich, who left late with cramps, finished with 25 points, eight assists and seven turnovers.
Sefolosha played a staggering 49:37 and flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 18 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. Del Negro lauded his defense afterward.
But this is for sure: If Rose is healthy, he's starting.
"The guy's a star," said Skiles, not prone to hyperbole. "He's beyond quick and fast, and he's so powerful. He can go to the rim and finish. He has unique shots in the paint that he makes — floaters, runners. And that doesn't even mention that he sees the floor and passes the ball. He's going to be very hard to handle."
Nocioni's 26 points led the Bulls, who finished exhibition play 4-4.
"It's been hard to evaluate the rhythm and rotation we're going to have because of all our injuries," Del Negro said.