Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011
Posted: Jan. 15, 9:51 PM Updated: 12:30 AM
By Aggrey Sam
Due to their age difference and the fact that Derrick Rosealthough equipped with the toughness typical toughness instilled in that section of the cityits illogical to project the matchup down the stretch of Saturdays Bulls-Heat thriller as a classic South Side Chicago playground battle. But in the end, the Bulls Rose and Miamis Dwyane Wade went head to head in the waning moments of the highly-anticipated matchup, with the younger ChicagoanRosegetting the upper hand, as Chicago threw the final punch in the Bulls (27-13) 99-96 victory over the Heat (30-12) at the United Center.
On a night on which the organization campaigned for the third-year point guards to start in the NBA All-Star Gameplacing placards touting his candidacy on every seat in the arena, as well as actual roses on the seats of both media and courtside spectatorsRose lived up to the billing, finishing 34 points (12 in the pivotal final period), eight assists, four rebounds and three blocked shots. Wade was no slouch himself, ending the contest with 33 points of his own11, including three consecutive 3-pointers, in the final stanzato go along with six rebounds, four assists and five blocks.
Even with Heat superstar LeBron James sidelined with an ankle injury, none of the games luster was lost from the outset, as boos toward the ballyhooed visitors cascaded from the rafters.
In the early going, quick starts from power-forward counterparts Carlos Boozer and Chris Bosh of Miami soon gave way to offensive balance from the home teamRose and Luol Deng both looked to for their offenseand Wade morphing back into the one-man gang he was prior to last summers formation of The Heatles. The Bulls would build a slim lead over the visitors, going up, 28-19, after a quarter of play, but not before a preview of the games conclusion; Rose elicited the now-familiar M-V-P chant from his hometown fans after a spectacular end-to-end drive, but Wade would block his fellow Chicagoans similar foray on the subsequent possession before rising above the tall trees to tip in an offensive rebound.
WATCH: Deng discusses Rose's level of play
The second period saw Chicagos winning margin get extended, as unselfish Bulls ball movement and a solid effort from the second unit were the catalysts in the Bulls building a double-digit advantage. Then, after Wade apparently tweaked his wrist on a hard falldrawing Boos from an unsympathetic crowdMiami gradually crept back into the contest, eventually making a furious run at the end of the half to overtake Chicago. Of course, Wade and his 18 first-half points were a major reason, but role players Eddie House and Mike Miller hit timely shots to contribute to the Heats 53-48 halftime lead.
After intermission, Chicago responded in a major way, immediately sandwiching a Kurt Thomas mid-range jumper and a Boozer putback around two consecutive Rose 3-pointers, prompting Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra to call timeout in an attempt to hit the pause button on the onslaught. Additionally, Wade would accrue his third and fourth fouls in this stretch, leaving Miami without their best player at a time when nothing could go right.
However, when play resumed, the spurt wasnt over, as the Bulls went on to run off seven more points before Miami could stop the bleeding. The visitors diligently fought back, even tying the count before the period ended, before eventually heading into the final stanza facing a 73-70 deficit.
A well-rested Wade returned in the fourth quarter, but Rose was the early aggressor in the period, garnering more individualized support from his hometown fans. But even without Boshwho, after finally finding his touch in the third quarter after a woeful first half, left the contest with a left-ankle injurythe Heat used contributions from role players like backup guards House and Mario Chalmers to stay afloat.
A tight-knit affair entering the games stretch run, this is where the two South SidersRose and Wadeasserted themselves for their respective squads in this playoff-like atmosphere. First, the dueling Chicagoans made trips to the charity stripe, as the opposing defenses insisted on making them earn their points, with the normally-clutch Wades surprising misses at the line permitting the Bulls to maintain their slim lead.
WATCH: Thibodeau on Rose-Wade battle
After Chalmers cut Chicagos lead to three points, Rose finished a tough shot in traffic, with under two minutes to play, followed by a Wade triple to make it 92-90 in the Bulls favor. Then, the sequence repeated itself, with Rose finishing another difficult shotplus, the foul for a three-point play to get the fans out of their seatsand Wade hitting another 3-pointer to silence the crowd.
Its all fun, especially playing against a player like that. He was just balling out, hitting tough shots. As a player, the shots that he was hitting, you want players to take shots like that, where hes fading back; its a contested 3-pointer. Theres nothing you can do about that. Thank God, he missed the last one, but the shots he was hitting were amazing, said Rose. I guess the team knows when its down to four minutes, three minutes in the game, you kind of know whos going to have the ball, so they were giving it to me, they had the confidence in me and they trusted me to take those shots, and thats what I was doing.
Added Bulls reserve swingman Ronnie Brewer: When you see superstar players like that get it going, you watch it and youre kind of amazed at the same time. It kind of takes the air out of the building because you thought that he was going to singlehandedly win the game for them, but D-Rose made some plays for us, we got some stops and luckily, we came away with the win.
In the battle of the two homegrown stars, Rose blinked first, throwing a pass away to Chalmers, which led to Wades third consecutive longball, giving Miami a 96-95 advantage with 37.2 seconds on the clock. After a Bulls timeout, Rosewith Wade guarding himmissed a baseline floater and after Boozer tapped out the rebound, reserve sharpshooter Kyle Korver gathered the loose ball and drained a 3-pointer near the corner to put Chicago up, 98-96, with 25.5 seconds to go. Kyle Korver is congratulated by Bulls teammates after his go-ahead three-pointer Saturday night against the Miami Heat. (AP)
At the end of the game, if were going to get a last shot or a shots going to be taken, Im normally in thereIve been in that situation a lot over the course of my careerso I always just tell myself in the last timeout, just to expect the ball, said Korver. Whether or not youre going to get it, youve got to be ready and thats what I always tell myself, so I got the ball and I was ready to shoot it.
Wade got the ball out of a timeout, but got tied up and lost it and after the ensuing scramble, Chalmers missed a 3-pointer and Brewer corralled the rebound with 4.4 seconds remaining. Brewer was fouled and split a pair of free throws to give the Bulls a three-point lead, leading to Wade missing a desperation shot after a timeout and time running out on the visitors.
I didnt want to foul and give him a chance to get to the free-throw lineI knew on the previous plays when he was hitting shots, he was either one-dribble pull-up or he was one dribble, pump fake and try to get somebody in the air, and get contactso I wanted to stay on my feet and close the space and put my hands up and try to make him take a tough shot and thats what happened, said Brewer, who guarded Wade on the final possessions. I feel like whenever my name is called, Ive got to go in there and make an impactif Thibodeau comes to me for defense, thats what I try to provide this team.
It wasnt a secret in Utah either. If we were playing against a good two-guard or small forward, no matter who it was, I was usually guarding the better player. Even here, in matchups, if theres a good two-guard or small forward, Im usually guarding those guys and try to slow them down, so I take pride on my defense and try to work hard on every possession.
Thats what you play basketball for, to be in there at the end of the game and for the coach to call you to make a defensive stop and do it. It brings joy to you, as well for your team because you help them win the game, he continued. Wade takes a lot of pride in being one of the better players in this league and I think a lot of defensive guys take pride in trying to shut some of those guys down. Thats what Im all about. They get paid big money to put a lot of points on the board and Ive just got to go out there and do my job. If its slowing them down, where they dont hit 40 points; its 38 and we win the game, I did my job.
Rose discussed his take on the significance of the win.
It would have been bad to lose to the Heat without James and Bosh. I think that when were at home against any team, were trying to win, but when theyre missing their key players, I think that it gives us the advantage to go in and with the game. We almost lost it, but Kyle hit that shot, said Rose. Were just trying to play well together right now. Were missing a key player. Were just trying to keep our defense up and keep this going.
WATCH: Boozer suffers ankle injury going for rebound
On the down side for the Bulls, Boozer appeared to hurt his left ankle on the play when Korver hit his go-ahead shot and was not in the game for the ensuing defensive possession following a timeout, although it was a logical conclusion that Thibodeau replaced him with Thomas for defensive purposes. According to multiple reports, Boozer was seen leaving the United Center in a walking boot.
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.