Unfair matchup? Rose faces his fans in pick-up game

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Unfair matchup? Rose faces his fans in pick-up game

After promoting his new shoe at the adidas store on Michigan Ave. and greeting several hundred adoring fans outside the State St. Footlocker, Bulls All-Star point guard Derrick Rose took to the court--playing in the aforementioned sneaker, of course.

With the start of the NBA season still in doubt, Rose had to find a way to stay busy and took part in pickup games with some of his biggest fans.

Rapper Common, a former Bulls ballboy himself, participated in three-on-three games with kids from throughout the region at the James Jordan Boys and Girls Club on the West Side--around the corner from the United Center, where Rose would normally be playing this time of year--exuded tremendous pride in being able to take the court with his fellow South Side product.

"It's a good feeling because this dude, he's special, man. He's real special and the way he carries himself is ultimate. He's very special and just to be able to see somebody that comes from the South Side, of humble beginnings, that represents Chicago well, that represents just manhood well and is a killer on the court, but a good spirit, that's what we're about," said Common. "That's what Chicago is about and I think Derrick Rose represents Chicago and his family and himself in the best way possible."

Added Rose's brother, Reggie, on his younger sibling's maturation: "The way he's grown, grown not only into a man, but he's understanding a lot now. Even with his financial stuff, he used to call me and say, 'Hey, Reggie, how much money is going to be here?' I'd say, 'Well, Derrick, if you go online, your portfolio is right there.' So, now he's stepping up and trying to be more of a man and a professional."

Even dealing with the media, the once-reticent 23-year-old has somewhat shed his shell to display more of himself as a well-rounded person, instead of just a highlight machine with little to say, except regarding the game itself.

"It was more him being comfortable with himself and also him learning how to gain relationships with reporters," said Reggie Rose. "He might see a guy he's comfortable with, but I think now, when you say, 'Hey, Derrick, what's up' and all that, he knows, so he gets more comfortable with you and he's more open."

While fans shouldn't anticipate Rose sitting in on current NBA labor negotiations, the perception that the shy kid with the loud game won't speak up isn't quite so accurate these days.

"I've been so busy, where I haven't had time to go into the news or anything like that, but my agents, Arn Tellem and B.J. Armstrong have been doing a great job with keeping me up with the updates and I'm supposed to be talking to 'D-Fish' in a couple days or Paul Pierce," said Rose.

"The biggest thing is you just want to get back out there and play. The lockout going to hurt us, but I think it's going to hurt basketball, period."

Morning Update: Bulls win first meeting with Cavs; LeBron pays off Cubs-Indians bet

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USA TODAY

Morning Update: Bulls win first meeting with Cavs; LeBron pays off Cubs-Indians bet

Here are some of Friday's top stories in Chicago sports:

Saturday on CSN: Bradley vs. Nevada; Illinois State vs. New Mexico

Dwyane Wade, Bulls take first blood with LeBron James, Cavs

Bears-49ers: And the winner is?

Jonathan Toews practices but won’t play vs. Flyers

For Cubs, winter meetings will be all about the hunt for pitching 

White Sox reportedly asking for No. 1 prospect plus more in trade return for Chris Sale

'Quarterback' Rajon Rondo executes Bulls' game plan, logs first triple-double of the year

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

LeBron James pays off bet, rocks Cubs uniform to the United Center

High School Lites basketball roundup: Week 1

'Quarterback' Rajon Rondo executes Bulls' game plan, logs first triple-double of the year

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USA TODAY

'Quarterback' Rajon Rondo executes Bulls' game plan, logs first triple-double of the year

Two nights after managing just 90 points in a lackluster home loss to the Lakers, the Bulls entered Friday night’s tilt against the defending-champion Cavaliers with a specific offensive game plan.

Attack, head coach Fred Hoiberg told his team, the interior of the Cleveland defense early to establish a presence in the paint. Knowing the Cavs, for all their strengths that made them NBA champions five months earlier, lacked a true rim protector, the Bulls made it a point to get Taj Gibson and Robin Lopez going.

The Bulls managed to do exactly that, tallying a season-high 78 points in the paint in their 111-105 victory over the Cavaliers. And while Lopez was again his usual efficient self and Gibson turned in his best performance of the season – the two scored 33 points on 15-for-23 shooting – it was point guard Rajon Rondo who proved to be the kick-starter for a Bulls offense that needed to be at its best to match Cleveland’s star power.

Rondo logged his first triple-double with the Bulls in the victory, tallying 15 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists. But looking past the raw numbers, it was the shots Rondo took, and the passes he made, that allowed the Bulls to play so efficiently on offense and ultimately come away with their most impressive victory of the year.

Of Rondo’s 12 assists, all but two of the made shots off those passes came from a distance farther than 7 feet. Ten of Rondo’s assists resulted in baskets in the paint, of which the Bulls had 39 as a team. Squaring off against a subpar defender in Kyrie Irving, Rondo was active in knifing into the paint and finding open bigs inside. Rondo had six assists in the first quarter, and all but one resulted in baskets within 3 feet of the hoop.

All four of his made field goals in the first half were layups, as was his only bucket in the third quarter. His putback midway through the fourth quarter was also at the rim, and gave him his tenth rebound to secure the triple-double. Two possessions later he connected on a 3-pointer that gave the Bulls an eight-point lead; Cleveland never got closer than four the rest of the way. Rondo only took three shots outside of the paint. Friday marked the first time in a month Rondo had shot better than 50 percent from the field in back-to-back games.

Past Rondo’s own numbers, Gibson said that the Bulls’ point guard was instrumental in leading the Bulls’ offense to match up against a Cavaliers offense that entered the night second in the league in efficiency.

“He’s like a quarterback. Even though he never really played any contact football the way he always gathers the huddle, he always sees what’s going on in the game,” Gibson said. “He’s always encouraging. He’s pushing it. He’s a great teammate and I know he got a lot of criticism before the year, a lot of people talk about the negative that’s in it, but he’s been showing me nothing but great stuff on and off the court.”

In a game that had a playoff-like atmosphere to it simply because of the matchup between Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, as well as the defending champs coming to town, the veteran Rondo took it upon himself to lead the Bulls offense. Though the Bulls wanted to avoid getting into a track meet against the fast-paced Cavs, Rondo didn’t allow the offense to become stagnant when it was apparent they could get into the paint at will.

“I thought Rondo was great all night long,” Fred Hoiberg said, “getting guys out and running, pushing them. You can hear him yelling “run with me” to get the guys down the floor. Rajon was a huge factor.”

His defense will continue to be a liability – Irving had an off-night shooting more than anything – and he won’t score 15 points each night, but his leadership and ability to run an offense with precision has the Bulls behind their floor general as they head into the season’s second month.

“He’s always inspiring. He’s one of those guys you want to go to war with. He’s one of those guys that’s in the huddle, you know that every time down the court if it’s a wrong call, a foul, a scuffle, if you not feeling right he’s always going to have your back no matter what.”