Deng celebrates birthday by protecting 'little bro'

Deng celebrates birthday by protecting 'little bro'
April 17, 2011, 5:47 am
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Sunday, April 17, 2011
Posted: 12:49 a.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

No wonder Pacers interim head coach Frank Vogel downplayed his teams Rose Plan before the game.

Vogel didnt want the Pacers game plan to limit Derrick Rose compared to the legendary Jordan Rules the Detroit Pistons notoriously used against the Bulls over 20 years ago, but it was hard not to think of those very same old-school tactics after Saturdays Game 1, won by the Bulls, who were led by Roses 39 points.

WATCH: Game 1's great finish revisited

Derrick Rose was too much down the stretch, Vogel marveled afterwards. I look at 39 points and Im shocked that I see 39 because I thought that we did a good job, the most of the night, on him.

"The kids out of this world. Hes got Allen Iversons speed, Jason Kidds vision, Chauncey Billups shooting and Michael Jordans athleticism. How do you guard that? We did a good job on him. He was too much.

Rose earned 19 of those points the hard way, via 21 free-throw attempts, in a physical affair that led to tempers flaring throughout the contest.

It was pretty physical, but from me working out, lifting weights, I should be fine, remarked a relaxed Rose. Right now, Im feeling good and I cant wait to go eat.

If anything, youre not going to get punked. I know that Im quiet, but that doesnt mean anything and when youre out there, if you think its a dirty play, youve got to say something. If you dont, theyre going to continue to do it and Luol, a couple of my teammates, they did what theyre supposed to do, continued the soft-spoken but fiery competitor.

I knew that they were going to be that way when I went to the basket try to be physical, try to put it in my head that its going to be hard getting there and I just tried to keep going. Some calls, I didnt get and a lot of them, I did.

Chimed in Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, a veteran of emotional playoff battles: Derrick was terrific all game long and to get to the line 21 times, it showed his aggressiveness and he probably could have been there a lot more, too. Thats the way it is. Thats the way its been all year. I trust that theyll make the calls and hell go to the line.

Roses teammates, however, took some exception to what they considered over-the-top physicality by the Pacers, leading to two in-game confrontations and a technical foul on normally mild-mannered Luol Deng, following Tyler Hansbroughs hard, fourth-quarter foul on Rose.

I consider Derrick like a little brother to me and when you see him getting hit like that, its tough. You want to do something about it, but weve got to keep our composure and understand that we cant let it happen all the time like that. Lu got a tech at the end. We cant have that happen either, said Joakim Noah, who with Rose, let Indiana veteran big man Jeff Foster know of his displeasure after a similar incident in the first half.

Added Deng: I dont think Tyler is a dirty player or anything, but I think its part of their game plan. When Derrick drives, instead of just fouling him, to really whack him. It happened a couple times in the first half and the last time we played them in Indiana.

Speaking of Deng who turned 26 Saturday after blanketing Pacers leading scorer Danny Granger in the first half, he turned his offense up a notch in the second half to complement Roses efforts. More important than his statistical contributions, however, might have been his exhortation of the crowd after picking up that aforementioned technical.

It was just a reaction, said Deng. Emotionally, I just stepped up. We needed the crowd behind us. That time of the game, we just needed whatever we could get and I think the crowd responded great, and it kind of got us going.

Noah, who is more known for displaying his emotions on the floor than Deng, appreciated both his teammate's energy and the United Center crowds hearty support.

This is my fourth year with Lu right now and hes playing his best basketball. I know that we wouldnt be in the position that were in right now if it wasnt for Lu. Just watching him enjoying the moment I know there have been some frustrating times for him and to see him just enjoying the game, it really helps us, said Noah, who also quipped, Its his birthday? He didnt tell me. How old is he, 42? about his longtime teammate.

Added Rose: We needed every fan in there to cheer. That really gave us the momentum in the last two minutes when we were making shots and thats a team that hasnt been playing together for a long time in their first playoff appearance. I think it got to them.

Maybe the young Pacers were rattled down the stretch, but their coach was still pleased with the performance of his squad, especially the second-year duo of Hansbrough and point guard Darren Collison, who each gave their defenders fits.

The kid Hansbrough is a big-time competitor, said Vogel. We knew they were come after us, they were going to get in our face and we took advantage of Boozer having foul trouble, and going at him. Tyler was very aggressive. He was either going to foul out or let Tyler score, and Tyler kept going at him. We had great poise. For our guys first playoff game, most of them, I thought they showed you what they were made of.".

Concurred Hansbrough: I think weve got to keep playing like we did. It gives us some confidence, but also shows us how we need to stay composed in the end and hopefully get a win.

This much is for sure: Indiana has the Bulls respect and full attention moving forward.

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.