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.