Rose reigns supreme as Bulls topple Lin, Knicks


Rose reigns supreme as Bulls topple Lin, Knicks

Linsanity may have subsided as of late, but as he does when presented with a perceived challenge, Derrick Rose met it head on, leading his short-handed Bulls (35-9) over the Knicks (18-24), 104-99 Monday night at the United Center.

Rose wasnt at his most efficient, but persevered and came up big when his squad needed it the most, while also getting support from his supporting castwhether some of the usual suspects or unlikely candidateswith a penchant for making hustle plays, to hand free-falling New York its sixth straight loss.

Offensive balance appeared to be the Bulls primary objective in the early going, as all five starters were on the board by the midway point of the first quarter. Kyle Korvers (nine points, seven rebounds) outside shooting, Roses (32 points, seven assists, six rebounds) penetration and Joakim Noahs (12 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, three blocked shots, two steals) aggressiveness as a scorerthe ex-New Yorker showed no mercy for the team he grew up rooting for, posterizing the Knicks frontline twice in the opening periodoffset Carlos Boozers (15 points, seven rebounds) two quick fouls, which sent him to the pine.

The visitors werent intimidated by the home team, which entered the evening with the leagues top record, especially center Tyson Chandler (13 points, 10 rebounds), who was familiar with the confines from his early days in Chicago, and made a quick, efficient and meaningful impact from the outset. New Yorks point-guard phenomenon Jeremy Lin (15 points, eight assists), had an uneven start to the gamelike most players, he struggled to stay in front of Rose, but made an impressive block on a layup attempt by the leagues reigning MVPbut managed the game well enough to aid the Knicks in taking a 25-23 lead through a quarter of play.

The short-handed hosts continued to trail early in the second stanza, as Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was forced to buy time with unconventional lineups, leading to a rough offensive stretch, though swingman Ronnie Brewer (11 points, seven assists, six rebounds) and reserve Taj Gibson (15 points, 13 rebounds) were solid contributors. However, even after reinserting the likes of Rose and Noah back into the contest, the Bulls still had problems scoring the ball, as both Rose and Boozer got off to dreadful starts shooting.

Rose began to assert himself more as a scorernot that it translated into trips to the foul linehelping the home team temporarily regain the lead in a strange affair, which featured technical fouls on both Thibodeau and Knicks head coach Mike DAntoni, as well as a rare first-half appearance by deep reserve and fan favorite Brian Scalabrine. At the intermission, the Bulls narrowly trailed their guests from Gotham, 50-48.

After the break, offense suddenly came much easier for the Bulls, as Boozer, in particular, appeared to have regained his scoring touch, while Rose maintained his aggressive edge, but had more successful results than in the first half. Rosewho gave Bulls fans a brief scare after taking a spill on his tender backby way of fast-break finishes, outside shooting, playmaking, drawing fouls and tough driving finishes, went on to propel a run that led to the hosts seizing control of the contest, eventually obtaining some breathing room as a buffer against the reeling Knicks.

Playing at a faster pace, the Bulls dictated the tempo, while still executing better in their halfcourt offense, as evidenced by Brewer cutting to open areas on the floor and knocking down jumpers, as well as Noah capitalizing on offensive boards made possible by proper spacing.

But New York hung tough behind the star forward duo of Carmelo Anthony (21 points, eight rebounds) and Amare Stoudemire (20 points), both of whom had begun to find their way, drawing within 79-78 heading into the games final frame.

Rookie swingman Jimmy Butler (eight points) sparked the Bulls at the outset of the fourth quarterfirst drawing a charge, then converting a steal into a transition layupenergizing the home crowd, aiding the hosts in again developing a slim cushion. Fellow reserve Gibson did much of the same, beginning with one of his typically thunderous flushes, but then with his relentless work on the offensive glass, which was best exemplified by an out-of-area rebound after a Rose heave to beat the shot clock, resulting in Rose receiving a gorgeous bounce pass from Noah, then throwing down a powerful one-hand dunk in the lane.

As the game entered its stretch run, Rose continued to work his magic, but the Bulls also received timely contributions from the likes of Butler, Noah and Boozerwhether scoring, rebounding, hustle plays or in the rookies case, a vicious follow-up dunkto help the team maintain its narrow winning margin.

Fittingly, following a jump ball forced by a Noah block on Stoudemire, Rose outraced Lin for both a loose ball and a subsequent fast-break layup and while the Knicks made a last-gasp effort that served as at least a wake-up call to the Bulls, it was too little, too late.

CSN's Top 25 players in the NBA

CSN's Top 25 players in the NBA

No matter how much you rely on analytics and logarithms in determining who are the best players, ultimately it becomes about judgment.

Should win shares have a greater value than a player’s winning percentage in the playoffs? Is defensive rating a better barometer about a defender’s ability than say, defensive field goal percentage differential? And how much do you weigh how they fare versus playoff teams and non-playoff teams? A legitimate case can be made for all those numbers and many, many more, being used to rank the top 25 players.

Realizing such an endeavor should not be a one-person job, I enlisted the help of my fellow CSN Insiders, compiled our rankings and voila! We made a beautiful, bouncing list of more than two dozen players.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

The scoring for this is pretty simple: Each Insider picked 25 players, ranking them from No. 1 through 25. Their number one pick received 25 points, No. 2 got 24, No. 3 got 23 and … you get the picture.

Without any further delay, here is the first annual CSN Top 25 NBA Players list in addition to our "others receiving votes" group.

Over-under: Analyzing Bulls' player propositions for 2016-17

Over-under: Analyzing Bulls' player propositions for 2016-17

Last week Bovada released a handful of Bulls player proposition over-unders. Here's a look at 10 of those numbers, with predicitions on which players will reach those thresholds in 2016-17.


Team wins: 38.5 (Last year: 42)

The pick: Fred Hoiberg had a pretty tumultuous first season in Chicago, the Bulls’ starting backcourt missed 31 games and Joakim Noah fizzled out before a season-ending injury. And yet the Bulls still managed 42 wins. How the Three Alphas and a lack of outside shooting fit Hoiberg’s style remains to be seen, and while the playoffs may not happen in an improving Eastern Conference, at least 39 wins should be manageable. OVER (40)

Jimmy Butler

Points per game: 20.5 (Last year: 20.9)

The pick: There’s a chance Dwyane Wade’s arrival will cut into Butler’s FGA (15.4) and FTA (7.1). There’s also a chance that the 27-year-old All-Star continues to improve once again in his sixth NBA season. Having a true facilitator in Rajon Rondo should really benefit him, the way Rondo did for DeMarcus Cousins (who improved by 2.5 points per game with Rondo). Everyone at the Advocate Center says the Bulls are Jimmy Butler’s team. His scoring will reflect that. OVER (21.7)

Rebounds per game: 5.5 (Last year: 5.3)

The pick: Whereas Butler may not see his scoring and usage decrease, the Bulls’ offseason moves to get Rondo and Wade give them two of the league’s best rebounding guards. Only Russell Westbrook averaged more rebounds per game among point guards than Rondo’s 6.0 average, and Wade has averaged four or more rebounds in all but one of his 13 NBA seasons. This one’s more of a toss-up, but with Rondo and Wade in the fold Butler may take a small hit on the glass. UNDER (4.8)

Dwyane Wade

Points per game: 17.0 (Last year: 19.0)

The pick: The future Hall of Famer is destined to drop off at some point, soon to be 35 with nearly 37,000 career minutes played. But 17.0 points per game would be the lowest mark of his career since his rookie season in Miami (16.2) and the Bulls don’t have a plethora of scoring options outside of Butler. It may not look pretty, and it may not be efficient, but Wade should flirt near the 19.0 points per game he averaged in his final season with the Heat. OVER (18.5)

Games played: 67.5 (Last year: 74)

The pick: This one’s tricky. On one hand it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Wade miss some time this season. He defied the odds in playing 74 games last season – it was the most games he had played since 2011 – and most likely won’t get there in 2016-17. On the other hand, the Bulls may be fighting for their playoff lives down the stretch and may need Wade to play a few extra games in April. Still, Wade played 62 and 54 games the last two years before 2016. He’ll be closer to that than 74. UNDER (65)

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Rajon Rondo

Points per game: 11.0 (Last year: 11.9)

The pick: Rondo averaged the third most FGA per game for the Kings last year, trailing DeMarcus Cousins (20.5) and Rudy Gay (14.4). And while he’ll play enough minutes to hover around the 10.9 field goal attempts he averaged in 2015-16, there are more playmakers around him that he won’t be asked to shoot as much with the Bulls. His point totals were also helped out by the 36.5 percent he shot from deep, and that likely will take a hit this season. UNDER (9.5)

Assists per game: 10.5 (Last year: 11.7)

The pick: Another tricky one here, as Rondo is clearly going to be the one initiating offense. But he also will be playing alongside two players in Wade and Butler who need the ball in their hands to be successful, and who are also above-average passers in the their own respective rights. Still, Rondo has topped 11 assists per game in four of the last six seasons, and there are enough scorers around him for him to get there again this season. OVER (11.5)

Nikola Mirotic

Points per game: 13.0 (Last year: 11.8)

The pick: The fate of the Bulls’ playoff hopes may rest on this number. Mirotic should get the first stab at winning the power forward position, and playing alongside the Three Alphas is going to open up plenty of looks for him. His field goal attempts per game may go down, but his efficiency should improve playing with three guards who can create space and make defenses rotate. This one will be close, but Mirotic should bump his average up over this mark as the lone outside threat in the starting lineup. OVER (13.8)

Robin Lopez

Rebounds per game: 8.0 (Last year: 7.3)

The pick: This one may be the easiest of the bunch. Assuming Taj Gibson remains on the second unit, Lopez is going to rack up the boards playing the majority of his minutes next to Mirotic. All three starting guards can rebound, but Lopez is going to get the opportunities early and often. With only Cristiano Felicio behind him, Lopez should enjoy a career year on the glass, surpassing the 8.5 rebounds per game he averaged for the Blazers in 2014. OVER (9.0)

Taj Gibson

Points per game: 8.5 (Last year: 8.6)

The pick: The contract year phenomenon is real. Gibson is in the final year of his contract and had a fantastic preseason, averaging 16 points and eight rebounds. He won’t reach those numbers in the regular season, but it would be a shock if he didn’t improve on his numbers from a year ago. He shot a career-best 52.6 percent from the field under Fred Hoiberg, and he could easily get back to double-digit points per game, which he did in his final two years under Tom Thibodeau. Believe in the contract year. OVER (12.5)