CSN's Chuck Garfien and Insider Vincent Goodwill discuss the Bulls' upcoming matchups in the latest Road Ahead, sponsored by Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana Honda Dealers.
The Bulls took care of another inferior opponent on Monday night, knocking off the Kings to push their winning streak to three games. And while the Bulls are doing what they're supposed to do - all three wins have come against sub-.500 teams - Derrick Rose's continued impressive play has come as a pleasant surprise.
Rose hit two jumpers that sparked a 10-0 run to lead the Bulls to the come-from-behind victory, allowing the Bulls to keep pace with the Pacers, Pistons and Wizards in the race for the final two playoff spots in the East. Rose finished with 18 points, five rebounds and four assists, and was a +19 in his 33 minutes.
[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]
After missing two games with a groin injury, Rose has averaged 17.0 points on 51 percent shooting and 4.3 assists per game in his last four. The Bulls are 3-1 in that span and are percentage points ahead of the Pistons for the No. 8 seed in the East.
"He's been very impressive since the All-Star break," Goodwill said. "He's hitting the outside jumper, he's taking threes that he should take in the rhythm and the flow. And (Monday), you're down five and he basically takes it over to spark and lift this team from a situation we've seen them lose too many times this year."
Rose and the Bulls will get another chance to keep this impressive stretch of play going Wednesday and Thursday in a home-and-home matchup against the New York Knicks.
The Bulls couldn't have known it at the time, but when LeBron James blocked a Derrick Rose 3-point attempt in the final seconds of Game 5 in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, it was the closest those Bulls would ever get to the promised land.
It happened on May 26, 2011, seven long, long, long years ago today.
The game was an ugly one and certainly a fourth quarter the Bulls would love to have back. They took a 12-point lead on a Ronnie Brewer 3-pointer with 3:53 remaining. The Heat closed the game on a 19-4 run, with James' emphatic block on Rose the lasting image of the series.
James finished with a game-high 28 points and 11 rebounds, and added six assists, three steals and two blocks in 46 minutes.
Rose went just 9-for-29, finishing the series shooting 35 percent from the field after being named league MVP over James.
It's probably unfair to say James and James alone shut the Bulls' championship window. Rose's ACL tear the following postseason realistically was the biggest culprit. But these Bulls had won 62 games, had homecourt advantage, had the MVP, the Coach of the Year and all the momentum. And still they couldn't get it done against James.
That win also sent James to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007. He's been there every year since, though that could change as he faces the Celtics on Sunday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Anyone who lived through the Michael Jordan Bulls remembers those games when he was putting up tons of points, but the Bulls were still struggling overall.
Steve Kerr referenced one of those games to give advice to Kevin Durant during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The TNT broadcast caught the conversation and aired it late in the third quarter.
"When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game," Kerr began the story. "He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren't getting anything going. Phil Jackson said 'Who's open?' He said, 'John Paxson.'"
Paxson scored 10 of 12 points for the Bulls during a fourth quarter run in Game 5 of the 1991 NBA Finals, the series clincher, and famously hit the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to clinch that series. Kerr, who later hit his own championship-winning shot on an assist from Jordan in 1997, was trying to get to get his teammates involved.
"I want to trust your teammates early," Kerr said. "What you're doing is you're getting to the rim and then you're trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?"
Watch the video above to see the interaction.
Durant scored 29 points in Game 5 to lead the Warriors, but Houston took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win.