Rose takes over, wills Bulls to victory yet again


Rose takes over, wills Bulls to victory yet again

Saturday, March 26, 2011
Posted 10:00 p.m. Updated 11:48 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam

MILWAUKEE It was the type of performance that an observer completely unfamiliar with his work could see and immediately jump on the MVP bandwagon. With the Bulls down double digits in the second half, Derrick Rose led a thrilling comeback effort with unselfishness and individual greatness to stun the Bucks, 95-87, Saturday night at the Bradley Center .

Rose: I didn't do s& yet

Just trying to take over the game, getting to the basket. You learn from every game that you play in, especially when its towards the end like that and I was just trying to win the game, Rose stated simply, as is his nature. When the chance is there, I just try to take the correct shot and tonight, it was driving the ball.

Elaborated Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau: His will, the pace, making plays, scoring. Whatever we needed, he provided.

Hes done it all year, hes got to continue to do it and the thing I really respect about him is hes never satisfied, the even-keeled coach, who admitted he tries not to be in awe of Roses brilliance, continued. The important thing for him is the win. Hes not concerned with what hes doing individually. Hes more concerned about what our team is doing and his defense continues to improve.

After starting slow for the second consecutive evening Milwaukee got out to an early 15-8 leadthe Bulls played in catch-up mode, flipping the switch after a timeout. Chicago , playing in front of a Bradley Center crowd consisting of majority Bulls fans, stopped settling for jumpers in a nod to Thibodeaus inside-out preference.

Following the timeout, Rose (30 points, career-high 17 assists)serenaded with MVP chants from almost the outsetwent on a scintillating coast-to-coast jaunt for a three-point play and continued to assert himself offensively, driving to the basket relentlessly to either score or create opportunities for his teammates.

The home-standing Bucks, fighting for the Eastern Conferences final playoff spot, bent but didnt break, mustering up enough offense from swingmen Carlos Delfino (23 points) and John Salmons (25 points), the erstwhile Bull, to take a 25-21 lead into the second quarter.

Starter Luol Deng and four-fifths of the Bulls Bench Mob built upon the teams first-quarter momentum, tying the game in relatively short fashion, but the Bucks answered with a 5-0 run, prompting Thibodeau to call timeout and filter his regulars back into the contest. Once again, Milwaukee created some breathing room and once again, Chicago was forced to make a comeback.

Propelled by Rosehis lightning-speed crossover and equally amazing, acrobatic finish excited Bulls and Bucks fans alikethe visitors narrowed the gap, but true to form (at least the first half of this particular game), Milwaukee again opened up a comfortable winning margin, despite Roses ongoing heroics.

An exchange of baskets marked the end of the halffollowing yet another Rose three-point play with 3.9 seconds remaining, Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings (13 points) made a layup at the halftime buzzerafter which, the Bulls trailed, 48-44.

Salmons scorched his former team with four jumpers to start the third period, increasing Milwaukee s lead to double digits as part of a 12-1 Bucks run that ended with the first of two Keith Bogans three-pointers in a short span.

Although the lid finally came off the rim for the Bulls, it didnt come off for the home team, as Salmons hot handthe well-traveled veteran scored 12 third-quarter pointswouldnt cool off and he received able assistance from his teammates.

Chicago predictably stormed back, as Roses playmaking abilityon consecutive possessions, he made spectacular dishes that resulted in Bulls layupsled the charge to make it a competitive affair again. At the conclusion of three periods, however, Milwaukee still held on to a 74-69 advantage.

Trying to play hard, thats the biggest thing. Staying together, we fought our way back, explained Rose of his approach. If you look at the game, in the third quarter, I was just trying to feel the game out. I probably didnt shoot that much, just passing the ball. Just trying to beat the double team as a passer and it was rolling for us. Guys were finishing the baskets and we were playing an up-tempo type game.

Its almost the same thing. people always change up. First, they go under screens. Stopped that. Go over the top, just me one-on-one with the big. Kind of learned how to deal with that. Sending a third person over, the shooters have got to be ready to shoot. Ive almost seen every coverage you could possibly believe theyd be in, continued Rose, discussing the defensive strategy of Milwaukee and other teams against him. Just get the ball out of my handsme putting pressure on them opens up everybody on the court.

Early in the year when they were double-teaming me, I was forcing shotsjust forcing them, just to be forcing thembut now, Im getting into the lane, feeding that guys thats open and just leaving it up to them.

Added Thibodeau: They were trapping him and he was making the right plays. Thats what we want him to do. Hes very unselfish, created easy offense and he was in attack mode, put a lot of pressure on them and got us easy shots.

He studies, he prepares and I think that hes gotten to know his teammates a lot better. His teammates have gotten to know him a lot better and as you see the different defenses, you have to read and react very quickly, and knowing that hes so unselfish, I think it makes our team unselfish, he continued. Often times, hes getting trapped and theyre trying to get the ball out of his hands, and its the second pass thats getting us the wide-open shot. As long as everyones willing to pass the ball, it makes you a much more efficient team, much more difficult to guard.

A three-point play by Ronnie Brewer kicked off the fourth-quarter scoring and with a small-ball lineupRose and C.J. Watson together in the backcourtthe Bulls applied defensive pressure to the Bucks and looked to push the pace on offense.

Thibodeau eventually went back to a more conventional lineup, but that adjustment didnt put a cramp in Chicago s style, as the Bench Mob preserved the nature of the tight-knit battle heading into the games stretch run.
Carlos Boozer had a strong second half on the receiving end of numerous Derrick Rose assists and finished with a double-double of his own, scoring 14 points and reeling in 11 rebounds. (US PRESSWIRE)
Upon his return, Rose seamlessly blended his pass-first instincts (Carlos Boozer, who scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, was a beneficiary) and elite scoring abilitymostly getting to the charity stripe, as the Bucks struggled to defend him off the dribble and were thusly forced to put him on the foul linefamiliarly putting the team on his shoulders in crunch time as the game hung in the balance. Additionally, Chicago s defense buckled down to get stops on crucial Milwaukee possessions.

We have a lot of confidence in our defense and thats the strength of this team. We feel like were never out of it. Were fighters. Were a team of fighters and I think weve showed that since the beginning of the year. Even when we were going through adversitywed go down a lot, come backwe were always fighting. Were a team with a lot of character and were playing with a lot of swag right now.

If it wasnt a passhis fast-break assist to Joakim Noah (12 points, 11 rebounds) tied the game at 87 apieceRose made, then it was a basket, such as his tough runner in traffic to give the Bulls an 89-87 lead with 1:53 remaining to put the visitors up for the first time in the contest.

The All-Star point guard continued to work his magic, also hitting the next two shots to give the Bulls a 93-87 advantage with 42 seconds on the clock, a margin supported by Chicago s sound defensive efforts.

Derrick, with the pressure of the game, hes great in those situations. Hes got a lot of poise and a lot of confidence and I think that comes from his preparation. Hes ready to handle those things and he always makes the right play, whether its him finishing at the rim, pulling up or hitting an open teammate. And hes not afraid. He has great courage, said Thibodeau. Milwaukees playing extremely well. Theyre playing very, very hard. Theyre a tough team defensively. Its hard to get a good shot against them and Rose did whatever he had to do to put us in a position to win.

We dodged a bullet. We trailed most of the game. Thats two games in a row defensively we were very poor in the first half. Weve got to change that, he continued. This team has shown a lot of resolve all season long. The rebounding again was very good, but the slow starts are not something that we like, so were going to have to take a look at that to see how we can improve.

A Bucks turnover, resulting in a Rose-to-Brewer fast break and layup put the game away. Not only was it an exhilarating comeback, but another addition to Roses season resume, one that should conclude with a league MVP award and possibly further gratification, in the form of team postseason success.

But according to Rose, even this stellar performance couldnt convince him all the individual attention was justified.

Im getting there. Im learning every game, watching other great players in the NBA.

The worst thing you can do is give me confidence. No matter what Im doing, doing whatever. If I get any type of confidence, its going to be hard to stop me, said Rose. I didnt do anything yet. Ive still got a goal. Weve got to get to the second round. Thats what were trying to do now.

You can just feel the vibe in the locker room right now, were happy, he continued. Weve got a bunch of good guys who love playing with each other.

Were confident against anybody in the NBA. Weve proved we can play against all the best teams now.

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.

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.