Derrick Rose helps Bulls put away pesky Sixers


Derrick Rose helps Bulls put away pesky Sixers

Who cares if it was the pesky Philadelphia 76ers giving the Bulls 48 minutes of run, when nobody who bought a ticket to the festivities expected it to be difficult, because they came to see a revival.

The Derrick Rose revival.

And as the crowd roared his name after cat-quick, brainless drives to the basket resulted in vintage Rose results, it was like he never left for six weeks or even two years.

After Rose took two hard dribbles with a spin to the basket for a layup with 1:00 left, he reminded everyone his eyes were never an issue, whipping a bullet pass to Taj Gibson for a dunk to effectively seal matters Saturday night, with a 114-107 win at the United Center.

“I thought he played terrific,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I thought he played well in a lot of areas, he made a few great hustle plays. You can tell he is feeling good out there.”

If his first two games were the warm-up to his home return, he delivered on call with 22 points, eight assists, six rebounds and zero turnovers in 28 minutes of play, his first fourth-quarter appearance since his injury.

“I’m just happy to be playing again, excited and we’re winning games,” Rose said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

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He made eight of his 19 shots, being far more definitive on his drives to the basket late, after settling for five triples that came up short.

“The shots I missed, I felt they were good shots, in and out. I just gotta get my feet under me a little more for my jump shots,” Rose said. “But it comes with playing basketball.”

Tony Snell and Nikola Mirotic carried the sluggish Bulls early in the fourth, combining for five triples as the 76ers kept fighting back despite their already-underwhelming roster having just nine players available.

But they couldn’t keep up their execution as the Bulls had to keep pace with the Toronto Raptors, who won in Miami minutes before the Bulls game went final. Seemingly every time the Bulls were ready to put them away, a couple of their 41 3-point attempts would fall and they’d be right back in the Bulls’ faces.

It gave the Bulls time to experiment with lineups, as Thibodeau subbed offense for defense down the stretch, a tactic in the past he’d been reticent to do.

“It allows us to have Niko, Taj and Pau on the floor together,” he said. “Then when we sub, we can go more by what the game needs. They all need a good chunk of time.”

The game needed a lot at different points, especially with the Bulls struggling for efficiency, shooting just 38 percent at the half and actually trailing by one—being kept off life support by 21 trips to the foul line.

Gasol got going in the third with 14 of his 23 points, but they still couldn’t hide from the 76ers, who played hard and executed longer than anyone thought possible.

“We just took the circumstance and made it work as best we could,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “We went into the game against the Chicago Bulls, as good a defensive team as they are…with no point guards. To have the guys respond the way they did, I cannot ask more from them.”

It was almost enough, until Snell got going, scoring 11 in the fourth in place of Kirk Hinrich. Hinrich’s hyper-extended left knee gave him trouble again, and his status for Monday’s game in Brooklyn is unknown.

“I thought it was something I can manage through, but I guess I couldn’t,” he said.

The supporting pieces set the stage, but the night belonged to Rose, who showed what he can give when he’s playing in the final 12.

Devastating drives to the basket.

Commanding attention from defenses, leading to opportunities all over the floor.

And a confidence that this Bulls team can compete with the best, even if they let the league’s worst stick around for far too long.

"Just wanting it. Pushing myself," Rose said. "Last game just pushing the ball, turning it over. But (I'm) getting in a rhythm of attacking and getting used to having the ball in my hands in certain situations."

Robert Covington scored 22 for the 76ers, and veteran guard Jason Richardson hit four triples on his way to 19 points, as the Bulls’ ugly habit of inconsistent second quarters reared its ugly head yet again, as it did in Miami and Orlando recently.

And although it wasn’t Rose to the rescue, it was the kid from Chicago who put the finishing touches on a win that came tougher than expected, but was necessary nonetheless. 


Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Reaction to Lauri Markkanen’s injury and loss to Kings


Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Reaction to Lauri Markkanen’s injury and loss to Kings

On this edition of the Bulls Outsiders podcast, Matt Peck, David Watson, and John Sabine react to the Bulls 98-81 loss to the Kings.

1:00 - Reaction to the loss and LaVine getting double-teamed

2:50 - On Jim Boylen saying don’t expect system changes with Markkanen hurt

4:25 - Sabine’s list of things that have happened since the last time the Kings made the playoffs in 2006

5:35 - Viewer comment on LaVine and Coby

6:40 - Viewer comment on Denzel Valentine

8:00 - On the importance of 1st vs 3rd quarter

9:00 - Viewer comment on possible trades

11:00 - Viewer comment on seeing Bulls without Markkanen

14:30 - On Lauri Markkanen’s hip injury and missing 4-6 weeks

18:40 - Viewer comment asking if Bulls should shut down Markkanen

19:50 - Hey Matt Peck, did you see what DRose did tonight?

21:15 - Viewer comment on what to expect from Lauri when he returns

23:40 - Viewer asking the greatest moment the Outsiders have witnessed

24:55 - On NBA naming the All-Star starters

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Without Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine's job will only get more difficult

Without Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine's job will only get more difficult

It’s been the most pressing on-court issue facing the Bulls all season — in a season full of them:

Outside of Zach LaVine, where do the points come from?

The glare of that question is only set to amplify with Lauri Markkanen now set to miss four to six weeks with a pelvic injury. Take tonight’s 98-81 defeat at the hands of the Kings as an example. LaVine tallied 21 — his 13th consecutive game with 20 or more. Thad Young chipped in 10; Kris Dunn did, too. But the rest of the team mustered 40, and the Bulls finished with 81 points against the Kings’ 18th-rated defense.

For a stretch — a 109-second one, to start the second half — it appeared LaVine might single-handedly save the day, as he has before. He opened the third quarter with 10 quick points to shave a 10-point halftime deficit to two after tallying eight in the first two periods combined.

But the Kings clamped up. The rest of the way, LaVine scored only thrice and was ever on the run from one, two or three Sacramento defenders at a time, depending on the possession. The Bulls’ dearth of scoring around him made the gameplan a simple one: Cut the head off the snake. LaVine finished just 8-for-21 from the field.

“I think they did a good job of that,” Jim Boylen said of the Kings’ throwing waves of bodies LaVine’s way. “Zach's a primary guy and they treated him like a primary guy. He got up 21 shots. You know, six rebounds. I thought he tried.”

This storyline isn’t going away. As of this writing, three of the Bulls’ top five scorers (Marrkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr.) are sidelined and weeks (at least) away from return. Young, steady as he is, isn’t going to transform into a consistent 20-point scorer overnight. Tomas Satoransky and Coby White represent the Bulls’ best chance of secondary explosions on a night-to-night basis — but against Sacramento, they combined for 16 points on 4-for-16 shooting.

“I mean, [opponents have] been doing that,” LaVine said of the double and triple-teams he received tonight. “We gotta get somebody to step up, and I think we'll find it. It's the first game without Lau [Lauri Markkanen]. We'll figure out what we gotta do in Cleveland.”

Easier said than done. Down another primary 3-point threat in Markkanen, the Bulls shot 8-for-37 from deep tonight, the fifth time in seven games they’ve made less than 10 3-pointers. They’re now 2-13 on the season when they make less than 10 3s.

“Will we have to adjust some things and maybe play a little differently? Maybe,” Jim Boylen said of the team’s shooting. “I'll evaluate with the shots we got and what else we had. But I'm not gonna reinvent the wheel in January, I'm not gonna do that.”

The Bulls — spearheaded by Boylen and LaVine — insist they’re going to keep plugging. Still, an offense already third-to-last in the league in offensive rating just lost another cog, and the impact was apparent. LaVine already carried as great an offensive load as anyone in the league. Now, if he didn’t already, he’ll receive as much attention as anyone, too.

“That's up to coach. I'm prepared for everything. I think my conditioning's [good], so we'll see, maybe I gotta do that,” LaVine said of potentially taking on more minutes.

And of the injuries: “Nobody's gonna feel bad for you. They're just gonna try to take advantage of it.”

The Kings did that successfully tonight. The Bulls hope it doesn't prove a foreshadowing.

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