Rose gives Houston a big problem in clutch


Rose gives Houston a big problem in clutch

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

By Aggrey Sam

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.


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.

Bulls Bracket Madness: The best individual seasons in franchise history


Bulls Bracket Madness: The best individual seasons in franchise history

We're trying to figure out the best season in Bulls franchise history, and we want your help in deciding.

Because the Bulls tout the greatest player in basketball history, who could have made up this list by himself, we're giving Michael Jordan his own side of the bracket. But the other side of the bracket is also filled with some pretty memorable and remarkable campaigns.

So read up on each matchup and then have your voice heard by voting on our Twitter page here. Check out the entire bracket in the graphic above.

The Jordan Region

No. 1 Michael Jordan (1995-96) vs. No. 8 Michael Jordan (1990-91)

No. 1 Michael Jordan (1995-96): Jordan was on a mission in his first full season back from retirement. He led the Bulls to a then-record 72 wins with a regular-season MVP award, All-Star MVP and romp through the NBA playoffs, where the Bulls went 15-3 en route to their fourth NBA title. Jordan won his eighth straight scoring title at 30.4 points a game, with nine games where he put up 40 or more. He saved his best for Detroit, scoring 53 with 11 rebounds and six steals in early March. To prove Jordan was getting better as he aged, he shot a career-high 43 percent from 3-point range at age 33.

No. 2 Michael Jordan (1990-91): 1990-91: Jordan's second MVP came with his first NBA title, as he was at the peak of his powers physically combined with the ultimate team success, with the Bulls finally getting past Detroit before defeating the Lakers in the Finals. He shot a career-high 54 percent from the field while averaging 31.5 points, six rebounds and 5.5 assists as he began to fully embrace the triangle offense in Phil Jackson's second season. Jordan had 57 games where he shot better than 50 percent from the field, and was among the league leaders in steals at 2.7 per game while earning his fourth straight All-Defensive First Team honor.

No. 1 Derrick Rose (2010-11) vs. No. 2 Scottie Pippen (1993-94)

No. 1 Derrick Rose (2010-11): Where to begin? The youngest MVP in league history took the league by storm, averaging 25.0 points and 7.7 assists while leading the Bulls to a league-best 62 wins. Rose had been named an All-Star the previous season but took his game to new heights in Year 3, appearing in 81 games, making 128 3-pointers (after making a combined 32 his first two seasons) while helping the Bulls rank first in defensive efficiency under first year head coach Tom Thibodeau. Rose and the Bulls lost in five games to LeBron James and the Miami Heat, with Rose shooting a paltry 35 percent on 24 attempts per game. But his historic season will always go down as one of the franchise’s best, and the only non-Jordan MVP.

No. 2 Scottie Pippen (1993-94): Yeah, well what would Scottie be without MJ? We found out that answer in 1993-94, when Pippen took the reins of the franchise as Jordan rode the Birmingham bus as a minor-league baseball player. Pippen responded with a sensational season, averaging 22.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists. He averaged 2.9 steals, shot 49 percent from the field and became a 3-point threat for the first time in his career. He was named First Team All-NBA and All-NBA Defensive First Team, and finished third to Hakeem and The Admiral in MVP voting. He averaged 22.8/8.3/4.6 in the postseason but ultimately proved it was easier to win in the spring with MJ by his side. Still, this individual season was one of the franchise’s best, if not the best. Hardware isn’t everything.

NBA Draft Tracker: Kentucky PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander


NBA Draft Tracker: Kentucky PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

For most of the college basketball season, John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats ranked among the nation’s biggest underachievers. Calipari had perfected the one-and-done route in Lexington, recruiting classes full of McDonald’s All-Americans every year, making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, and then sending those talented freshmen off to the NBA. Matter of fact, Coach Cal’s ability to get players ready to play professionally is the foundation of his recruiting success.

However, this season the tried and true formula ran into a bit of a speed bump. Injuries and inconsistency led to double digit losses for the Wildcats during the regular season, and an uncertain tournament outlook. That’s when freshman point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander emerged as the leader of this young team, and sparked Kentucky to a Southeastern Conference tournament championship.

Gilgeous-Alexander has been even better in the NCAA Tournament, scoring 19 points with 8 rebounds and 7 assists in the Wildcats’ opening round win over Davidson, then coming back with 27 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists in a victory over Buffalo.

At 6-6, Gilgeous-Alexander has the ability to shoot and pass over smaller defenders, while also possessing the quickness that is so crucial at the point guard position. Yes, he is very thin at 180 pounds, but has the frame to put on weight once he’s introduced to an NBA strength training program.

Gilgeous-Alexander has been Kentucky’s most efficient player throughout the season, shooting 49% from the field and nearly 42% from the 3 point line. He has the quickness and ball-handling ability to break down defenses and get in the paint for easy scores or assists. As the season progressed, Gilgeous-Alexander took on the role of go-to scorer late in games, sparking Kentucky’s runs in the S.E.C. AND NCAA tournaments.

So, by now I’m sure you’re asking, where does he fit with the Bulls? 3 weeks ago I was hoping Gilgeous-Alexander might be available in the 16-22 range where the Bulls might be able to get him with the Pelicans’ 1st round pick acquired in the Niko Mirotic trade. Unfortunately, his outstanding post-season play has him rocketing into the late lottery in the most recent mock drafts, and he could move up even higher if Kentucky advances to the Final 4.

The Bulls are happy with Kris Dunn as their starting point guard, and both Jerian Grant and Cameron Payne are under contract for next season. But if somehow the Pelicans fall out of the playoff field in the West (which seems very unlikely right now), adding an athletic combo guard like Gilgeous-Alexander would be an outstanding pick at 13 or 14.

So, when you’re watching Kentucky play in the NCAA Tournament, keep an eye on the tall, skinny guard wearing #22 and try to project just how good he might be on the professional level.