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Chicago's Best: Rose outduels Wade, Bulls win

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Chicago's Best: Rose outduels Wade, Bulls win

Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011
Posted: Jan. 15, 9:51 PM Updated: 12:30 AM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

Due to their age difference and the fact that Derrick Rosealthough equipped with the toughness typical toughness instilled in that section of the cityits illogical to project the matchup down the stretch of Saturdays Bulls-Heat thriller as a classic South Side Chicago playground battle. But in the end, the Bulls Rose and Miamis Dwyane Wade went head to head in the waning moments of the highly-anticipated matchup, with the younger ChicagoanRosegetting the upper hand, as Chicago threw the final punch in the Bulls (27-13) 99-96 victory over the Heat (30-12) at the United Center.

On a night on which the organization campaigned for the third-year point guards to start in the NBA All-Star Gameplacing placards touting his candidacy on every seat in the arena, as well as actual roses on the seats of both media and courtside spectatorsRose lived up to the billing, finishing 34 points (12 in the pivotal final period), eight assists, four rebounds and three blocked shots. Wade was no slouch himself, ending the contest with 33 points of his own11, including three consecutive 3-pointers, in the final stanzato go along with six rebounds, four assists and five blocks.

Even with Heat superstar LeBron James sidelined with an ankle injury, none of the games luster was lost from the outset, as boos toward the ballyhooed visitors cascaded from the rafters.

In the early going, quick starts from power-forward counterparts Carlos Boozer and Chris Bosh of Miami soon gave way to offensive balance from the home teamRose and Luol Deng both looked to for their offenseand Wade morphing back into the one-man gang he was prior to last summers formation of The Heatles. The Bulls would build a slim lead over the visitors, going up, 28-19, after a quarter of play, but not before a preview of the games conclusion; Rose elicited the now-familiar M-V-P chant from his hometown fans after a spectacular end-to-end drive, but Wade would block his fellow Chicagoans similar foray on the subsequent possession before rising above the tall trees to tip in an offensive rebound.

WATCH: Deng discusses Rose's level of play

The second period saw Chicagos winning margin get extended, as unselfish Bulls ball movement and a solid effort from the second unit were the catalysts in the Bulls building a double-digit advantage. Then, after Wade apparently tweaked his wrist on a hard falldrawing Boos from an unsympathetic crowdMiami gradually crept back into the contest, eventually making a furious run at the end of the half to overtake Chicago. Of course, Wade and his 18 first-half points were a major reason, but role players Eddie House and Mike Miller hit timely shots to contribute to the Heats 53-48 halftime lead.

After intermission, Chicago responded in a major way, immediately sandwiching a Kurt Thomas mid-range jumper and a Boozer putback around two consecutive Rose 3-pointers, prompting Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra to call timeout in an attempt to hit the pause button on the onslaught. Additionally, Wade would accrue his third and fourth fouls in this stretch, leaving Miami without their best player at a time when nothing could go right.

However, when play resumed, the spurt wasnt over, as the Bulls went on to run off seven more points before Miami could stop the bleeding. The visitors diligently fought back, even tying the count before the period ended, before eventually heading into the final stanza facing a 73-70 deficit.

A well-rested Wade returned in the fourth quarter, but Rose was the early aggressor in the period, garnering more individualized support from his hometown fans. But even without Boshwho, after finally finding his touch in the third quarter after a woeful first half, left the contest with a left-ankle injurythe Heat used contributions from role players like backup guards House and Mario Chalmers to stay afloat.

A tight-knit affair entering the games stretch run, this is where the two South SidersRose and Wadeasserted themselves for their respective squads in this playoff-like atmosphere. First, the dueling Chicagoans made trips to the charity stripe, as the opposing defenses insisted on making them earn their points, with the normally-clutch Wades surprising misses at the line permitting the Bulls to maintain their slim lead.

WATCH: Thibodeau on Rose-Wade battle

After Chalmers cut Chicagos lead to three points, Rose finished a tough shot in traffic, with under two minutes to play, followed by a Wade triple to make it 92-90 in the Bulls favor. Then, the sequence repeated itself, with Rose finishing another difficult shotplus, the foul for a three-point play to get the fans out of their seatsand Wade hitting another 3-pointer to silence the crowd.

Its all fun, especially playing against a player like that. He was just balling out, hitting tough shots. As a player, the shots that he was hitting, you want players to take shots like that, where hes fading back; its a contested 3-pointer. Theres nothing you can do about that. Thank God, he missed the last one, but the shots he was hitting were amazing, said Rose. I guess the team knows when its down to four minutes, three minutes in the game, you kind of know whos going to have the ball, so they were giving it to me, they had the confidence in me and they trusted me to take those shots, and thats what I was doing.

Added Bulls reserve swingman Ronnie Brewer: When you see superstar players like that get it going, you watch it and youre kind of amazed at the same time. It kind of takes the air out of the building because you thought that he was going to singlehandedly win the game for them, but D-Rose made some plays for us, we got some stops and luckily, we came away with the win.

In the battle of the two homegrown stars, Rose blinked first, throwing a pass away to Chalmers, which led to Wades third consecutive longball, giving Miami a 96-95 advantage with 37.2 seconds on the clock. After a Bulls timeout, Rosewith Wade guarding himmissed a baseline floater and after Boozer tapped out the rebound, reserve sharpshooter Kyle Korver gathered the loose ball and drained a 3-pointer near the corner to put Chicago up, 98-96, with 25.5 seconds to go. Kyle Korver is congratulated by Bulls teammates after his go-ahead three-pointer Saturday night against the Miami Heat. (AP)

At the end of the game, if were going to get a last shot or a shots going to be taken, Im normally in thereIve been in that situation a lot over the course of my careerso I always just tell myself in the last timeout, just to expect the ball, said Korver. Whether or not youre going to get it, youve got to be ready and thats what I always tell myself, so I got the ball and I was ready to shoot it.

Wade got the ball out of a timeout, but got tied up and lost it and after the ensuing scramble, Chalmers missed a 3-pointer and Brewer corralled the rebound with 4.4 seconds remaining. Brewer was fouled and split a pair of free throws to give the Bulls a three-point lead, leading to Wade missing a desperation shot after a timeout and time running out on the visitors.

I didnt want to foul and give him a chance to get to the free-throw lineI knew on the previous plays when he was hitting shots, he was either one-dribble pull-up or he was one dribble, pump fake and try to get somebody in the air, and get contactso I wanted to stay on my feet and close the space and put my hands up and try to make him take a tough shot and thats what happened, said Brewer, who guarded Wade on the final possessions. I feel like whenever my name is called, Ive got to go in there and make an impactif Thibodeau comes to me for defense, thats what I try to provide this team.

It wasnt a secret in Utah either. If we were playing against a good two-guard or small forward, no matter who it was, I was usually guarding the better player. Even here, in matchups, if theres a good two-guard or small forward, Im usually guarding those guys and try to slow them down, so I take pride on my defense and try to work hard on every possession.

Thats what you play basketball for, to be in there at the end of the game and for the coach to call you to make a defensive stop and do it. It brings joy to you, as well for your team because you help them win the game, he continued. Wade takes a lot of pride in being one of the better players in this league and I think a lot of defensive guys take pride in trying to shut some of those guys down. Thats what Im all about. They get paid big money to put a lot of points on the board and Ive just got to go out there and do my job. If its slowing them down, where they dont hit 40 points; its 38 and we win the game, I did my job.

Rose discussed his take on the significance of the win.

It would have been bad to lose to the Heat without James and Bosh. I think that when were at home against any team, were trying to win, but when theyre missing their key players, I think that it gives us the advantage to go in and with the game. We almost lost it, but Kyle hit that shot, said Rose. Were just trying to play well together right now. Were missing a key player. Were just trying to keep our defense up and keep this going.

WATCH: Boozer suffers ankle injury going for rebound

On the down side for the Bulls, Boozer appeared to hurt his left ankle on the play when Korver hit his go-ahead shot and was not in the game for the ensuing defensive possession following a timeout, although it was a logical conclusion that Thibodeau replaced him with Thomas for defensive purposes. According to multiple reports, Boozer was seen leaving the United Center in a walking boot.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Bobby Portis apologizes to teammates as Bulls continue to deal with all-around complicated situation

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AP

Bobby Portis apologizes to teammates as Bulls continue to deal with all-around complicated situation

The mending hasn’t yet begun for the Bulls, but perhaps a good sign in moving forward from the Bobby Portis punch that delivered a concussion and broken facial bones to Nikola Mirotic is that it isn’t being ignored.

Fred Hoiberg is being tight-lipped about where matters stand, but he did at least say Portis returned to practice and apologized to the team Friday afternoon. Hoiberg wouldn’t reveal the contents of Portis’ apology and Portis didn’t address the media, but it’s clear things aren’t business-as-usual at the Advocate Center.

“Bobby was back at practice. It was good to have him back in here,” Hoiberg said. “Obviously, everybody’s looking forward to having Niko back in here, as well, hopefully soon.”

When asked about Portis’ spirit, Hoiberg deflected and preferred to talk about what adjustments the team will have to make in the immediate future, especially with rookie Lauri Markkanen having to go against Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge in the home opener Saturday night.

“That’s the biggest thing we have to do as far as preparing until we get our guys back, is throwing different lineups out there and hopefully getting better with our execution,” Hoiberg said.

Justin Holiday admitted that things aren’t normal, saying the actual games to start the season won’t serve as a welcome distraction because this isn’t something that can just be treated trivially.

He wouldn’t venture into getting into his teammates’ head, saying “Bobby came into today like Bobby. We’re not quite sure what he’s thinking mentally. We can’t assume that.”

But one thing that can’t be assumed is a sweeping under or pretending.

“I mean I don’t necessarily think this is a situation for us to get past,” Holiday said. “I think it’s a situation that obviously (needs) to be brought to the forefront. It’s a situation that needs to be taken care of for those two to be able to come together and be brothers again. I don’t think we’re trying to get past it.”

Holiday has been a leader during this early time, so his words and definitive tone were noticeable.

“They say sometimes you need time to heal,” Holiday said. “Again, we have to think about both situations in this. One guy is trying to get back healthy. And again, I don’t know. I wish I did. I wish we could just fix this the right way, but that’s not the case.”

It’s complicated all around, with no real precedent.

For Hoiberg, his handling has two faces. Since Portis is able to practice but has to sit out seven more games on a team-mandated suspension, he has to walk the line of incorporating Portis in daily drills and activities but also has to prepare a team that wasn’t prepared for two power forwards being out for an extended period.

That was on display Thursday as Quincy Pondexter likely played that position for the first time in his career, and it’s highly unlikely Paul Zipser practiced there at all with the depth the Bulls had until now.

“We have to get our guys ready to play positions that they haven’t played,” Hoiberg said. “We’re getting them in here early. We’re getting a group in to work on our execution. Quincy not only hasn’t played in two and a half years but I don’t know if he has ever played the 4.

“You just have to do the best with what you have.”

Emotional return to the court for Quincy Pondexter after missing two seasons: 'The journey is worth it'

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USA TODAY

Emotional return to the court for Quincy Pondexter after missing two seasons: 'The journey is worth it'

Quincy Pondexter’s trade to Chicago makes him a newcomer. His birth certificate makes him a veteran. But it’s his story that makes him worth listening to.

Even in the eye of team chaos, Pondexter’s debut with the Bulls had such a special meaning that when he entered the game to start the second quarter, he thought he would come to tears.

Having been out of basketball the last two years after knee surgeries went bad, Pondexter came close to dying in a New York hospital in January when his organs began to fail after a MRSA infection.

Catching MRSA can often lead to death.

“It wasn’t looking good,” Pondexter said. “It was tough. I prayed. My family was there close to me. Being able to play basketball again in less than a year is crazy. It’s all God. This journey has been amazing.”

His journey took him from being in New Orleans, where his knee troubles started, to being an addition to the Bulls in a trade months ago when the Bulls picked up cash and a second-round pick from the Pelicans.

Pondexter joined high school teammate and close friend Robin Lopez on a team needing some leadership, and due to the punch Bobby Portis threw to Nikola Mirotic Tuesday afternoon, it put Pondexter in position to get on the floor as a backup power forward behind rookie Lauri Markkanen.

If the Bulls were smart, they’d probably put Pondexter in a room to talk to his teammates about his struggles, especially the two teammates who may have to share the same floor in several weeks.

“The competitive nature of our team has been really terrific and we wouldn't want to trade that for anything,” Pondexter said. “It hurts those two guys aren't here right now. But we love them and we love what they brought to this team.

“I think my age on my ID solidifies me as one of the veterans. When you do things the right way, that's what it means to be a veteran. Show up first, last one there. That's what it means to be a veteran. Establishing myself there and doing things that are right, the guys have followed and listened and embraced me and I love it.”

No word on whether Pondexter got teary-eyed when he got a breakaway steal and dunk for his first points since the 2015 playoffs, when the Pelicans were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the eventual champion Warriors.

“I know I’m going to get emotional on the court later on and probably tear up,” Pondexter said after the morning shootaround. “I told Robin that a thousand times. People don’t know what you’ve been through. There are a lot of times they’re not there besides your close family and friends. I appreciate them carrying me through this whole process.”

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg can relate to Pondexter, with Hoiberg’s heart ailment cutting his career short. When the Bulls coach speaks about the frailty of the game and how precious things are in the NBA, Pondexter is living, breathing proof.

“I’m really really happy for Quincy. For a time there, his life was in danger with his infection. I know he’s really excited to get his career going again,” Hoiberg said. “I never got that opportunity to get back out there. I tell these guys to cherish it ever day. You never know when it can end. All of a sudden. For Quincy to get this chance, it’s awesome.”

Pondexter, with the straightest of faces, called basketball his “obsession” and he felt happy to get back on the floor, if even for a few minutes.

“I love it to death. It’s my life,” Pondexter said. “Basketball is what got me through it---my family and basketball. It was like, ‘How can I make this story even better? Do I quit?’ No. I watched so many inspirational movies, 'Hacksaw Ridge.' They get you through tough times because you say, ‘That’s going to be me.’ I’m going to be able to inspire someone down the road. That’s really helped me.”

A hamstring injury slowed Pondexter in training camp, which would explain his lack of explosive lift in the season opener.

No one was really sure if the Bulls would hold onto him for the season, but it’s clear he holds value beyond the box score. When he finished his media session, Lopez turned to Pondexter and said, “Now you’re stuck with me”, putting his arm around his teammate.

“Being able to play after two and a half years, it feels like hundreds of surgeries, getting traded to this organization. It's been a lot,” Pondexter said. “I wouldn't trade any of that for this moment right now and how I feel in my heart. I can't wait to get on this floor and play with my teammates and try to do something special. The journey is worth it.”