Bulls

Rose gives Houston a big problem in clutch

316503.jpg

Rose gives Houston a big problem in clutch

Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010
Updated 1:14 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

HOUSTON The Closer apparently isnt just some show that comes on after late NBA games; its also an appropriate description for the man wearing No. 1 in a Chicago uniform.

Derrick Roses closer instincts came to the forefront Tuesday night, when the All-Star point guard scored 16 of his 33 points to start the final period to help overcome a once-comfortable Rockets (3-7) lead and propel the visiting Bulls to a 94-92 road victoryChicagos (6-3) fourth consecutive winin the first game of the circus trip.

Whatever it takes for my team to win, Im going to try to go out there and do it, said Rose. I guess I did what I was suppose to do.

We showed a lot of resiliency, said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. And of course, Derrick was Derrick."

I hope so. Just taking games over, he continued when asked if stretches like the one witnessed in Houston were part of his development as a superstar. Thats on defense, offense whatever you need me to do, Im going to go out there and try.

Rose was at his dynamic best to start the final stanza as part of an 18-0 Bulls run 14 of which he scored to begin the fourth quarter after missing much of the previous period following his fourth foul.

Remarked Rose: It was so frustrating. I knew I had to sit out, but I was just hoping that we kept it close.

They were leaving me open. Preseason really helped me for this moment, where I was shooting like five threes I averaged like four or five threes through the preseason and I was just shooting the ball, continued Rose, who shot 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, including 3-for-4 in his fourth-quarter outburst.

Rose took control of the game, he realized what needed to be done, he started attacking, going north and southattack, attack, attack, added Thibodeau. Hes impossible to guard.

I didnt like the way we started the third quarter and then when Derrick picked up his fourth foul, we had to go to the bench early and then we hit a lull, he went on to say. He came back to start the fourth quarter and he was very, very aggressive and we made up a lot of ground quickly. Hes reading plays, too,

Added Kyle Korver (10 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals), who not only suited up after being a game-time decision, but excelled: When we really needed Derrick, he really stepped up. He hit those threes, he drove to the basket, made a lot of plays for us.

In a game of runs Chicago twice fought back from deficits in which the Rockets seemingly seized control of the contest the Bulls defense was stout down the stretch, limiting Houston power forward Luis Scola (27 points), who had previously tortured them throughout the night.

Rose was in takeover mode, but he had plenty of help. Chicagos much-maligned bench had a strong collective outing, with Korver, swingman Ronnie Brewer and center Omer Asik Thibodeau was confident enough in the rookie that he sat Joakim Noah for the majority of the fourth quarter all had positive individual outings, despite a team 15-for-18 mark from the free-throw line and 19 turnovers, 16 of which were recorded in the first three periods.

Our bench, I thought, was terrific. Omer Asik coming in, Ronnie Brewer coming in, C.J. Watsonthey gave us energy and a spark, said Thibodeau.

We didnt run iso isolation plays. We ran a lot of stuff for guys coming off screens and coming to the basket and Ronnies so great at cutting backdoor to the basket, so Im always looking for him, added Korver. But we had a lot of guys playing together.

Headed to San Antonio after the contest, the Bulls face the always-tough Spurs in a back-to-back game and the second in a seven-game road trip Wednesday evening. Even with his performance in the hard-fought win over Houston, Rose showed little sign of satisfaction afterwards.

We still havent played a whole game together yet. Thats what were trying to fight for. But were coming along, said Rose. Well take any win. Any win is good. We have a tough game tomorrow and were just trying to focus on that.

Were still not a 48-minute team, but were a team that does fight and when we get down, we keep fighting. We came back twice and we have to keep striving for improvement, added Thibodeau. For us, thats the big thing right now. We want to keep getting better and better, and try to analyze what happened in the game and then make the necessary corrections.

Top Toro

Rose obviously was the difference in the game for the Bulls, but his postgame remarks lend some insight to his thought process, which so many observers credit too simply to his physical abilities. In times of adversity, Rose says he seeks out the wisdom of his agent and former Bulls guard B.J. Armstrong.

I had to do something. Talking to agent B.J. Armstrong, he just says stop the game thats with getting to the line or whatever and just concentrate, focus in. Its either stopping it or scoring the ball and tonight, it was with scoring it, said Rose. I just remember the things he says and theyre all important to me. If I need any advice, I have great people thats on the coaching staff, but I need any more advice, I call him.

"He probably wouldnt want me saying his name. Hes probably mad that Im telling you all this, but I go to him for almost everything.

Thibodeau discussed Roses mindset to begin the final period after being saddled with foul trouble.

He plays so hard and he drives the ball so hard, I thought there was a little frustration on his part because hes not getting to the line the way probably he should, said the Bulls coach. When he came out to start the fourth, I thought he did what he should do: He attacked harder. So, I think when you do that, now you get calls. So, I thought his aggressiveness led to a lot of good things for us.

Moment of Truth

Again, Roses play at the beginning of the fourth quarter was huge for Chicago. The team went on an 18-0 run to start the period, with 14 of the points poured in by Rose after heading to bench with his fourth foul at the 5:30 mark in the third quarter.

However, a key to keeping the game close in the first place was a 12-2 run in the second quarter keyed by Chicagos second unit. Brewers 11 first-half points provided a big lift, as did Korvers four assists, especially as both Utah expatriates have struggled to get acclimated to the system and have been hampered by injuries.

Thats what we have to do. Our second quarters havent been strong all year and we have the guys to do it, said Korver. I think its part of us jelling together as a unit and tonight, I thought we did.

X-Factor

Not to be redundant, but the trio of Korver, Brewer and Asik truly stepped up Tuesday. With Luol Deng, Taj Gibson and Noah having subpar evenings, the play of Chicagos second unit cant be underestimated.

Asik, in particular, provided a major defensive deterrent to the smallish Rockets again, sans Yao and his offense appears to be increasingly better than advertised, albeit not gaudy statistically.

I thought Omers energy in the first half was really good. Hes so active, at his size, at the rim and theyre such a good cutting team that his shot-blocking there and his activity, he sets a great screen on the pick-and-roll; he rolls hard and he has great hands. So, I thought that gave us a spark offensively, too. And it was the way the group was playing, too. I thought the group was functioning extremely well, so I wanted to stay with it longer, said Thibodeau.

I think hes done it through the preseason and the start on the season. When hes on the floor, its harder to score. His rebounding is excellent, he makes effort to the offensive board, but defensively, he brings a lot to the table for us.

Subtly Strategic

Thibodeaus insertion of Asik in Noahs stead paid off major dividends, but perhaps one of the biggest factors in the Bulls win were two baskets a layup and a 3-pointer by Houston point guard Kyle Lowry at the end of shot-clock buzzers that were later overturned by instant replay.

Quipped Thibodeau: Love it instant replay. Love it. Best thing that happened to this league. It was great. It was good fortune. Those were two tough shots that they made and we were fortunate that those things worked in our favor.

We needed them. He Lowry hit some crazy shots. Those were some crazy shots that he hit, but Im happy that they the NBA did that put in an instant-replay rule to review shots made at the end of periods or end of the shot clock, added Rose.

Additionally, the Bulls dodged a bullet with Roses foul trouble, as he committed a giveaway foul in the first half that almost came back to haunt them.

In hindsight, I look back, he Rose had one foul. So we knew we had the foul to give. Probably wont do that in the future, said Thibodeau. To me, some guys can play with fouls, too. Normally, hes not in foul trouble, so its a calculated risk. I thought the way the game was going, wed take a shot at it. Didnt work.

Thorn in the Side

Although the Bulls did a good job on him down the stretch, Rockets power forward Luis Scola absolutely killed the Bulls with his excellent footwork and touch in the low post.

Hes Scola so clever and crafty. We just tried to make his catches as hard as possible, but he knows how to get open, said Thibodeau. I thought our ball pressure was better in the fourth quarter, which I thought helped us.

Also, former Bulls center Brad Miller had one of those turn-back-the-clock nights thats so familiar to Chicago fans, as he went for 21 points including three 3-pointers on the night.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms 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.

Looking for culture reset, Bulls find themselves in the middle of more drama

Looking for culture reset, Bulls find themselves in the middle of more drama

It was supposed to be an uneventful and culture-resetting season for the Chicago Bulls, but that ended the moment Bobby Portis’ hand connected with the sweet spot on Nikola Mirotic’s face.

Now a light is shining on an unwilling franchise and rightful questions are again being asked about what led to the event, rather than the result.

Mirotic will be out four-to-six weeks with facial fractures and a concussion to boot and Portis was suspended for the first eight games of the season, leaving rookie Lauri Markkanen to man the power forward spot against the likes of Serge Ibaka and LaMarcus Aldridge his first two games.

Welcome to the NBA, kid.

It’s likely he received his wake-up call when he saw his teammates exchange friendly fire, though, considering the witnesses said Mirotic and Portis had been at it for awhile before Portis took one swing to conclude matters.

“Both players owned responsibility in the incident itself but only one player threw a punch. And that punch connected. For us, that is inexcusable,” Bulls Vice-President John Paxson said. “It’s not who we are.”

But when there is no discernable identity, and there’s a coaching staff who’ve witnessed these two go at it for well over two years you have to ask if this is who the Bulls are.

Not in the way of fighting but a team that collectively stands by idly while a situation builds and builds before it explodes, then is forced to clean up the carnage while having to explain and react to an unnecessary event.

Jimmy Butler, gone. Ditto for Derrick Rose. Tom Thibodeau? Dumped too before he picked up what the Bulls didn’t want in Butler on draft night, jump starting this process of the Bulls headed to Parts Unknown.

All have been blamed at some point for the state of affairs. Rose’s knees, Butler’s mouth, Thibodeau’s unwillingness to bend.

Butler took a tongue-in-cheek shot directly across the bow of his former franchise when asked about the incident involving his former teammates, saying “All I know is I’m not to blame for this one”, a nod to the narrative surrounding his trade to Minnesota.

Now who’s left to blame and what happens from here is anybody’s guess.

“When’s the right time to step in? I saw it on the best teams I played on, where you had that competitive spirit,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “You have to have it to have any chance at all. So sure, looking back on it, would we have handled the situation differently? Maybe. I don’t know.”

Both Paxson and Hoiberg expressed the rightful disappointment in Portis while also saying Mirotic had a hand in what occurred. Portis will ultimately bear the responsibility, with his eight-game suspension coming at the worst possible time as his option for next season hasn’t been picked up yet, as it’s hard to see he and Mirotic sharing the same space in a locker room whenever Mirotic returns.

And if he is still around, it’ll be on the players to keep a team from splintering — as if the expected losing won’t be depressing enough.

“As teammates, we're certainly supporting Bobby and supporting Niko,” said Robin Lopez, a de-facto leader on a young roster. “We're going to let them know that what they did, the way they messed up, wasn't right, but we're definitely supporting them.”

Lopez, along with many others, said the confrontation has been brewing for some time, that the pushing and shoving wasn’t anything new. From a human standpoint it’s understandable to sense tension as Portis has been itching for playing time for two years after playing behind veterans, anxious to cement himself on a team that drafted a player at his position four months ago.

Mirotic came in as a golden boy of sorts, handed a starting spot by Hoiberg two years ago and given every chance to snag a starting spot last year before Taj Gibson aggressively stepped in.

His up-and-down performances were rewarded with a $12-plus million deal this offseason and although players usually don’t count each other’s money, they take note of who’s favored and who isn’t.

Mix in competition and ego days before the season began and it’s not surprising something was on the horizon.

But it’s up to a coaching staff to step in, as assistant coach Randy Brown did before the parties were separated in the hope things would settle down.

They didn’t, and now Hoiberg will start yet another season having his aptitude to coach a professional team questioned before he can call an official play or lay out a rotation — because Portis laid Mirotic out on the Advocate Center floor.

Hoiberg desperately wants to change the narrative surrounding his first two years, eager to prove his system can work and that he’s capable of commanding a team that plays hard and organized on a nightly basis.

Whether this is an omen or a random event, it certainly doesn’t bode well for Hoiberg to his detractors.

He stood to the side while Paxson addressed the media, appearing both bewildered and shocked he was having to address such a rare situation a little more than 24 hours before his season-opening cleanse was to occur.

“I’m very disappointed in what happened,” Hoiberg said. “Now, my job is to not let this moment derail us. My job is to get these guys prepared to go out and fight and play as a group, and I’m confident our guys will do that. They’ve shown that going all the way back into late August.

“I’m confident our guys will rally around each other. I’ve seen how much these guys care for each other, and we’re going to go into Toronto tomorrow as a group. We’re going to learn from this. We’re going to grow from this. We’re going to compete, I promise you that.”

It’s clear the Bulls want to extricate themselves from the past couple years and now recent events, but when things are swept under the rug they have a funny way of reappearing at the weirdest times.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Could the Bobby Portis-Nikola Mirotic fight have been prevented?

bulls.jpg
USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Could the Bobby Portis-Nikola Mirotic fight have been prevented?

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski and Vincent Goodwill react to Bobby Portis’ eight-game suspension and how the Bulls handled the incident with Nikola Mirotic. Mark and Vinnie also discuss how the injury and suspension thrusts Lauri Markkanen into the starting power forward spot and the impact on the rest of Fred Hoiberg’s rotation. Plus the duo previews the season opener against the Raptors.