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Rose, Deng help Bulls make statement vs. Heat

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Rose, Deng help Bulls make statement vs. Heat

Friday, Feb. 25, 2011
Posted Feb. 24, 9:43 p.m. Updated 12:33 a.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

With both teams now at full strength both Chicago center Joakim Noah and Miami superstar LeBron James missed the last matchup with injuries Thursdays matchup between the Bulls (39-17) and the Heat (42-16) didnt have to come down to another late-game South Side showdown between the Eastern Conference All-Star starting backcourt of Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade.

This time, it was a team effort, with Luol Deng joining forces with Rose to counter Miamis duo of James and Wade, leading to a 93-89 Bulls win at the United Center.

This was a playoff game. This was definitely a playoff atmosphere, playoff intensity, Deng told CSNChicago.com afterwards. That team wanted to beat us tonight. they came out with their best. We gave our best, too.

Carlos Boozer (16 points, nine rebounds) got off to a strong start for the Bulls, scoring on two traditional three-point plays in the early going. However, Miami then scored on five consecutive possessions, four of which were on fast breaks.

James (29 points, 10 rebounds, five assists) scored on three of those trips all in transition throwing down a ridiculous reverse slam, a powerful one-handed dunk and a full-speed layup. Sandwiched between James flurry and an uncontested Wade (34 points, eight rebounds) dunk was a Mario Chalmers (12 points, four rebounds, four assists) baseline layup, Miamis only halfcourt score of the run.

Noah (seven points, eight rebounds) temporarily stopped the bleeding with a putback dunk, displaying the energy that had United Center fans pining for his return, but it was a short-lived halt to the onslaught by the visitors.

I feel like I definitely have a lot of work to do, but it feels great to be out there, just competing. I feel like the game is still pretty fast for me, but Im getting the hang of it, said Noah. My thumb feels great. My thumb feels fine. I think I can handle a whack or two.

Added Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau: I thought Jo his numbers wont reflect it but I thought he played better today. In each game it will be similar to Carlos in each game, hell get better and betterthe thing that you can count on from Jo every game, is that hes going to give you everything that he has.

Transition offense was the Heats early calling card Miami scored 16 first-quarter fast-break points living up to the potential observers imagined they had when the superstar trio of James, Wade and Chris Bosh first inked deals last summer. At the conclusion of the opening period, the Bulls trailed their guests from South Florida, 31-23.

After the first quarter, I thought our defense came back. I thought our effort was a lot better. Obviously we werent pleased with the start of the game, Thibodeau said. Our floor balance was poor, I thought we were quick-shooting the ball and put them in transition. Then, when they get a head of steam, theyre hard to stop.

Chicago gradually closed on the Heat early in the second quarter, with the Bulls second unit playing their usual up-tempo, defensive-oriented brand of basketball. Thibodeau filtered his regulars back into the contest, but the home team couldnt immediately make up more ground.

Bosh who missed his first seven shots from the field drew the crowds ire when Boozer dropped him to the floor with what looked like a phantom elbow upon further review, drawing an offensive foul on the Bulls power forward. The play was exacerbated when Noah was called for a ticky-tack foul while guarding Bosh on the subsequent Heat possession, further infuriating the already-rowdy Windy City audience.

Miami kept its poise and again built their winning margin to double digits behind the quietly efficient scoring of Wade, prompting Thibodeau to call timeout. With Rose (26 points, six assists, five rebounds) and Deng (20 points, 10 rebounds, five assists) both struggling to produce points (Deng finally got on the board in the last minute of the first half), Chicago trailed Miami, 53-44 at the intermission, following a James jumper at the halftime buzzer.

Although the Bulls effort to start the third quarter was clearly ramped up a notch, the dual dominance of James and Wade kept the Heat comfortably ahead. Rose began to force the action in a good way looking for his own scoring opportunities, rather than just facilitating for others.

Deng also got himself more involved and the subsequent momentum allowed Chicago to challenge Miamis lead midway through the period. Wade satisfied the home fans desire to pile on by receiving a technical foul, seemingly after being frustrated by Keith Bogans physical, dogged defense.

Spurred by Deng who was unusually demonstrative, indicating the importance of the primetime affair the Bulls went on an 11-2 run to pull within a point of the visitors, leading Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra to call timeout to refocus his aggravated squad. A spinning Rose jumper put the Bulls up for the first time since the first quarter to extend their spurt.

I really dont care what people say. Honestly, I swear. I just want to win and that makes me play well. My whole mindset is even if Im not shooting the ball well my whole mindset is, Lets win this game somehow. I always just stick with that. Even when I have a bad shooting first half I dont even think I had a bad shooting half; I just shots four shots we didnt move the ball. We did that in the second half and the ball was just finding me, Deng told CSNChicago.com. I just knew we had the momentum our way and I just wanted to hype up the whole stadium, everybody. I was just feeling it.

While Deng may prefer simply blending in, as long as the Bulls win, both Rose and Thibodeau singled out his efforts.

Big Shot Lu, he was the reason why we won tonight and Im happy for him. He played great, played hard and still able to hit big shots, said Rose. Lu, hes been solid the whole year consistent, playing hard he had to face LeBron tonight, somebody who he really takes that challenge. He stepped up and he was still able to go out there and be effective the whole game.

Hitting shots, playing defense, making big drives, passing the ball. He did everything perfect.

Added Thibodeau: Lus been great all year. When youre around him every day and you see his leadership ability and the way he works, you cant say enough about him and Ive said this all year: hes our glue. He keeps us together. When things are going tough, hes the same. He doesnt get rattled and you can count on him.

With Rose the M-V-P chants started coming with greater frequency and Deng propelling Chicago, Miami was on its heels, as the Bulls clung to a slim winning margin. After a Rose runner off the dribble on the Bulls final possession of the period, Chicago held a 71-67 advantage heading into the final stanza.

Led by Dengs strong play carrying over, the always energetic Ronnie Brewer (eight points, four rebounds) and the rebounding of Omer Asik (11 rebounds), the Bulls second unit came out with increased gusto in the fourth quarter. The reserves played scrappy and intense, making plays in transition and opening up a nine-point lead in the first two minutes of the period, compelling Spoelstra to call a timeout.

We didnt get going defensively until Asik and Taj came into the game and brought a lot of energy into the game which is what you want from your bench as did C.J. Watson and Ronnie, said Thibodeau. Swarming, getting deflections and getting the ball up the floor quickly. So, they were huge. Tonight, our bench gave us a huge spark.

The visitors were unable to manufacture any offense other than Wade and James Bosh made one of his 18 shot attempts and Chicago was in complete control halfway through the quarter, with Thibodeau reinserting his regulars.

However, the Bulls stagnated offensively and the Wade-James combination simply bullied their way to the basket, with their supporting cast narrowing the once-wide rebounding margin, as well as the score.

Chalmers knocked down a three-pointer he became the first Heat player other than James and Wade to score in the second half to give Miami the lead, as part of a 13-0 run by the visitors.

A corner triple from sharpshooter Kyle Korver (seven points, 2-for-6 three-point shooting) ended the run and regained the advantage for the Bulls as the games stretch run approached.

Out of a timeout, swooping Rose layup set the tone for Chicago, which sandwiched a defensive stop around a Deng pull-up jumper. After yet another Bosh miss, the two combined on the Bulls next possession, as Deng chased down an offensive rebound and Rose knocked down a three-pointer to give the home team an 89-84 lead with 1:06 remaining, leading to a Miami timeout.

It was a clutch shot, especially towards the end, said Rose, who reacted with more emotion than usual after hitting the basket. The clock running down and me having the ball in my hands, it was a tough shot.

Quipped Noah: If youre not going to be invested emotionally against the Miami Heat in front of 25,000 people going crazy, I dont think you ever will. Youre not an emotional person. Youre not human.

D-Rose likes playing in the big games. He likes competing against the best and hes proven what hes all about.

Wade hit a difficult, fading jumper with 59.1 seconds left, making it Thibodeaus turn to pause the game for strategic purposes.

Rose missed a jumper over James and was then called for a blocking foul on a James shot in transition with 36.8 seconds on the clock. James hit the ensuing free throw to tie the contest at 89 apiece.

With James defending him, Rose drove, drew the defense and found Deng in the corner for a wide-open three-pointer, which he canned with 16 seconds to go, giving the Bulls a 92-89 lead.

I was going to shoot the shot until D-Wade came over and Lu was wide, wide open. Hes my shooting partner in practice and every time we get to the corner, he goes 9-for-10 or 10-for-10, so I knew it was going to be an easy shot for him, recalled Rose. Lu came up and hit a huge shot, man. They doubled team, he was wide open, so why not pass?

It was great, man, especially being in a situation like that in my hometown and got the ball in my hands you best believe that shot was going to go up, but they double teamed and I just read the play, he continued. I was just trying to take advantage of my quickness with him James being big.

Added Thibodeau: I loved Derricks play at the end of the game, just trusting a teammate. They collapsed on him and he made, without hesitation, the right play, and Lu knocked the shot down.

Deng told CSNChicago.com: I just told myself, Be ready. Derrick made a great play. I was so wide open, I took my regular shot.

The lead would hold up, giving the Bulls the advantage in their season series with the Heat, with the two teams third and final matchup coming up in Miami on Chicagos upcoming five-game road trip.

It feels amazing. It shows you, the NBA, its so mental. Its all about how you come into games and we were resilient tonight. It was a team effort, said Noah. Yesterday, you lose to Toronto and its the end of the world. Twenty-four hours later, you beat Miami and people treat you like youre on top of the world.

Opined Boozer: We knew our game in Toronto wasnt characteristic of our team we dont give up 118 points to a team and the biggest thing for us was getting back to playing Bulls defense, and tonight, we did that against one of the best teams in the league. It was a bigger deal for us to get back on track. Holding them to under 90 points with the talent that they have is a big deal.

Concluded Rose: Were just trying to prove that we can compete with some of the best teams. Were trying to continue playing the same way.

When we beat them the first time, people were saying, Okay, they beat them, but LeBron wasnt playing. Tonight, we beat them, they had their whole team. It was a tough game, but we pulled it out, he continued. We can go on a run now. I think our confidence is high now. I think its a great win to come back home to, especially off the All-Star break. Weve got to keep it up.

They know that we can compete with them with everybody on the court.

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.

The aftermath of Kris Dunn's terrifying fall now includes a concussion

The aftermath of Kris Dunn's terrifying fall now includes a concussion

At first, it had appeared that Kris Dunn had somehow avoided a concussion in his scary fall late in Wednesday's Bulls loss to the Warriors.

But that is no longer the case, as Dunn has been diagnosed with a concussion:

The Bulls confirmed it the day after Fred Hoiberg said he wasn't sure if Dunn had suffered a concussion. The Bulls announced his two dislocated teeth have been stabilized and were splinted with braces.

Dunn took "a good little chunk out of the floor" with his teeth. He did not lose teeth when he fell face-first into the floor after he dunked and got caught on the rim just enough to throw his landing out of whack:

The 23-year-old point guard had 16 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in 30 minutes Wednesday night while defending Steph Curry. Dunn is averaging 13.7 points, 6.4 assists and 2.1 steals per game on the season.

It is not yet known how much time Dunn will miss, but he is currently not traveling with the team as they embark on a three-city road trip beginning Saturday in Atlanta.

Being a 'little slow, a little late' costs Bulls against Curry, Thompson and Warriors

Being a 'little slow, a little late' costs Bulls against Curry, Thompson and Warriors

The margin for error in playing against even a half-focused Golden State Warriors team is thin.

Wire-thin.

And as the Chicago Bulls took their litmus test against the defending NBA Champions following their recent success, an understated quote from the HBO series “The Wire” comes to mind as character Avon Barksdale looks at his brother in a hospital bed, locked in a vegetative state.

“The thing is, you only got to (mess) up once,” he said. “Be a little slow, be a little late, just once. And how you ain't never gonna be slow, never be late? You can't plan for (stuff) like this, man. It's life."

While Barksdale certainly wasn’t referring to Golden State sharpshooters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the words apply to defending them and this Warriors team in the middle of a dynastic run, winning their 14th straight road game with a 119-112 win over the Bulls at the United Center Wednesday night.

Curry and Thompson are at the peak of their powers, with Thompson scoring 38 and Curry 30 as they combined for 13 triples. The two put on a show during the decisive third quarter after the Bulls took a shocking 66-63 lead into halftime.

Thompson hit three in a row out the gate where the Bulls lost track of him away from the ball and Curry followed up with a quick five, giving the champions a seven-point lead.

"If you're a split second late, you're dead,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said.

Each scored 11 in the period, reaffirming how dangerous they are when sensing opportunity.

“They were on fire, both of them, at the same time,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “But yeah, it was an old school ‘Splash Brothers’ game.”

It was during that period where the Bulls went cold for an extended stretch, nearly seven minutes between scoring after putting up 72 points in the game’s first 26 minutes—not a shocker considering how the Bulls have played and the Warriors being without defensive mainstays Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala.

“Our defense picked up,” Thompson said. “They got a lot of wide open threes in the first half. And they were able to space the floor and get to the basket after that. We guarded much better and communicated much better than we did in that first half.”

By the time Jerian Grant’s layup ended the drought with 2:47, the Warriors had sprinted out to a 17-point lead and were seemingly on cruise control.

“We lost our minds out there,” Hoiberg said. “We weren’t hitting shots, then we couldn’t get back to get matched up. We relaxed. We stood up. We got caught on screens. We lost our spirit.”

It wasn’t that the Warriors’ collective will smothered the Bulls; they merely waited until they saw an opening, exerted themselves and took control. With the United Center at a fever pitch, the Warriors can’t match the nightly desire of their opponents, their energy and motivation to beat the champions.

What they’ve mastered in the last two seasons is staying afloat long enough before someone gets hot, then they run away and hide before the 48 minutes expires.

“There’s a balance of understanding, every game isn’t gonna be playoff intensity,” Curry said after the morning shootaround. “We’re not gonna play playoff minutes during the course of the regular season. The things we can focus on, will mentally prepare us for the playoffs. No matter if it’s playing Boston with the next best record in the league or playing whomever is at the bottom of the standings, it doesn’t matter.”

They focus on the tenets the Bulls hope to make theirs: defense, rebounding and taking care of the basketball (11 turnovers), which is obscured by their dynastic scoring and shooting.

It initially looked over in the first 12 minutes, when Curry scored 12 points on a “too late, too slow” Kris Dunn and the Warriors had a 12-point lead. But the Bulls scored a remarkable 20 points in the last 3:11 of the period to tally their best opening stanza of the season and taking a 40-38 lead.

“A hard-fought, energetic first half,” Hoiberg said.

Perhaps the Warriors were a little shell-shocked after Jordan Bell exited in the first 24 seconds following an ankle injury, playing with unusual emotion before settling in and allowing the Bulls to display the emotion that has become their trademark in the last several weeks, buoying them to an unlikely finish before the half.

And they did it without the contributions of Zach LaVine, who struggled in his third game, going two for 12 in his mandated 20 minutes to score just five points.

The Bulls had six players in double figures while Nikola Mirotic provided the scoring as early and late when the Bulls made their comeback to make the score interesting, while the Warriors only had three in double figures: Curry, Thompson and Kevin Durant, who was an afterthought of sorts with 19 points on six of 15 shooting.

On this night, it was Curry and Thompson doing the heavy lifting.

“We got sped up and they knocked down more shots than we did,” LaVine said. “We’re trying to match them at their game. They’re the gold standard. You can’t play that game. You have to get some stops.”

LaVine was tasked with chasing Thompson around screens, highlighting a step he needs to take in improving his off-ball defense.

A little slow, a little late.

“He’s extremely hard to guard,” LaVine said. “Especially when you have KD and Steph doing splits as well. Pachulia is good at screening. You gotta have your head on a swivel.”

Figuratively and emotionally, LaVine’s statement rings as the Bulls don’t have the talent to truly compete with the Warriors—and there truly isn’t a team that can say it does—they have to rely on emotion and execution to stay within arm’s reach of the champions.

“I don’t want to necessarily say we got lazy defensively, but we didn’t tighten up defensively,” said Justin Holiday, a member of the Warriors 2015 title team. “(Later) we did what we were supposed to do. I think we did a pretty good job, we just didn’t close it at the end.”

Dunn started to get going after a porous three quarters where he missed 10 shots in a row during a stretch, getting into the passing lane for a steal and uncontested dunk with 2:55 left to bring the Bulls close at 112-107—but fell on his face after letting the rim go and drawing blood from his mouth.

“He didn’t lose teeth,” Hoiberg said. “He’s being evaluated right now (for a concussion). There’s a good little chunk he took out of the floor. Tough kid.”

Tough kid, and tough team the Bulls have turned into from the last time they saw the Warriors when they played Washington Generals to the Warriors’ Globetrotters on Nov. 24 during a 49-point beatdown.

Mirotic has returned, and was a plus-25 in 27 minutes, scoring 24 points and hitting four triples. Bobby Portis continues to be an unsung catalyst with his style, and he battled veteran David West all night, scoring 12 points with four rebounds in 17 minutes.

David Nwaba came off the bench to guard Curry late, forcing turnovers and missed shots when the Bulls needed to do everything right to overcome a 32-12 third quarter.

“A guy like Curry and Thompson, any space you’re giving them, they’re shooting it,” Nwaba said. “They’re constantly on the move and I have to stay with them the best I can.”

When Nwaba was asked whether it was more important to stay with them on the ball or off, he sighed and said “Both. You can’t relax.”

And there’s the rub. No easy answer on this team, although the Bulls showed some character and moxie in picking themselves off the mat for the final 12 minutes to make it interesting.

“We’d like to play a perfect game,” Curry said. “But as I always say, the other team gets paid too and you’ve just got to find a way to win. Over the course of 48 minutes, we try to impose our will.”

Because sooner or later, you’ll be a little slow or a little soon—and it’ll be June, and we all know how that movie ends.