No ulcer issues; Rose, Bulls feast on Magic

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No ulcer issues; Rose, Bulls feast on Magic

Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011
Posted Jan. 28, 9:51 p.m. Updated 12:27 a.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

It wasnt quite Michael Jordans flu game in terms of the stage or significance but a day after revealing he was suffering from stomach ulcers, newly-named All-Star Game starter Derrick Rose helped the Bulls (32-14) overcome a 40-point performance by Magic (30-17) center Dwight Howard.

After two embarrassing losses to Orlando (once in the preseason, once in Carlos Boozers Bulls debut) this season, Chicago utilized a stout defensive effort on everybody but Howard and a huge second half from Luol Deng to conquer their fellow Eastern Conference contenders, 99-90, Friday night at the United Center.

WATCH: Rose describes impact of ulcers

An inauspicious start to the contest seemed like a bad omen for Chicago, but although the Bulls bounced back quickly behind two three-pointers from the unlikeliest of contributors, much-maligned starting shooting guard Keith Bogans Howards interior dominance was problematic, as the All-Stars combination of size, athleticism and physicality overwhelmed an undersized Bulls frontline, aiding Orlando in jumping out to a slim cushion.

Although Rose struggled shooting the ball in the first period he shot 3-for-11 over the course of the quarter he showed no ill effects from missing two days of practice in the wake of his stomach-ulcer diagnosis, displaying the quickness and athleticism that have become his trademarks.

Derricks Derrick. The game starts, hes going. I thought he was terrific. He didnt shoot the ball well, which I sort of expected. Hes had six of the last nine days offI loved the way he played. I thought he played tough, I thought he made the right playswhen you take everything into consideration not practicing, not feeling well and to do everything that he did, you cant say enough about him, praised Thibodeau.

He looked the same. Its amazing. When he plays, he plays so hard and hes taking hits all the time, but the thing that I respect about him, he always gets up. He gets knocked down, no call, gets back up, demeanor the same, attacks the next time. You cant say enough about that type of attitude.

WATCH: Thibodeau thinks Deng having All-Star season

Added Boozer: We take our hat off to him. I told him as soon as the game was over, Way to gut through it for us. He had a great floor game 12 assists, two turnovers great point guards do that. Im proud of him.

As Rose got his legs under him and fresh legs off the bench primarily in the form of Ronnie Brewer (nine points, six rebounds) and Taj Gibson (seven points, five rebounds), both of whom made immediate impacts gave the Bulls a boost, they overtook Orlando late in the opening period, ending the first quarter with a 24-23 lead.

All week, we just worked hard. Coach has been pushing me on my post moves. When I came in, we just played with a lot of energy, said Gibson. Bench guys, we just come in and attack. Were real defensive-oriented.

The game remained close-knit through the midway point of the second frame, as both teams second units effectively canceled each other out. Gibson and Brewer continued to provide energy for Chicago and while Boozer (16 points, 16 rebounds, four assists) eventually found his groove, his Orlando counterpart, Brandon Bass, along with reserves Ryan Anderson and talented Gilbert Arenas, held down the fort for the Magic. For Chicago, Brewer, in particular, stood out with his finishing around the rim and rebounding from the wing.

Going into the game, you look at their roster youve got Gilbert Arenas coming off the bench, J.J. Redick, Ryan Anderson they contribute a lot for them. They really get them going when they make those subs, so we wanted to match their intensity and take it up a notch. Weve got guys who step in and play big for us, night in and night out C.J., Kyle, myself, Taj, Omer so we just try to go out there and play hard, Brewer told CSNChicago.com.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau opted to guard Howard (40 points, 15 rebounds, three blocked shots) one-on-one, focusing instead on Orlandos legion of sharpshooters. However, a small-ball Chicago lineup featuring Boozer guarding the massive center individually didnt pay off, as the massive Orlando center led the visitors to a 51-46 halftime advantage.

We did a great job of getting them off that three-point line. Theyre a great three-point shooting team. Obviously when theyve got that monster, he gets a lot of attention and he kicks it out most times. We didnt want him to have 40, but we didnt want to double him either, so we played him single coverage, said Boozer. The great thing about it, we did a great job on their three-point shooters, we did a great job rebounding.

At the end of the day, the three is more dangerous than the two. You werent trying to give him 40 points. You dont want to give anyone 40 points. But hes the best center in the NBA. If you play him one-on-one, hes going to get some buckets and tonight, he was also hitting his free throws, he continued. We knew over the course the game, it was going to work out. We believe in Coach Thibs and his system and we followed it to a T and it worked.

A clearly frustrated Howard offered his thoughts on the strategy after the game.

I dont know if it was effective. I got their bigs in foul trouble. I hope they do it again, opined Howard. On offense, we didnt do anything. We didnt move the ball. We came down, one shot. One pass, shot. We cant win that way.

The Bulls are an improved team. Theyre very good, but it was just too easy for them, he continued. We cant be a championship-contender team playing defense like we did tonight.

After intermission, Deng (26 points, eight rebounds) joined the party for the Bulls, reeling off 11 points in the third quarters first three minutes and change, and playing with a much greater sense of urgency on both ends of the floor after contributing just two points in the first half.

I had two shots in the first half and one of them was a three that I didnt really think was a great shot I just tried to get myself going but I didnt really feel that I was missing shots, explained Deng. When I came out in the third quarter, I took my regular shots. We rested the last two days and I had good legs, so I used that energy.

Having those days off, we could come out and not be in a rhythm, but I thought Coach did a good job of keeping us active in practice, getting up a lot of shots and coming out tonight, playing the way we did, he continued.

Added Boozer: Luol got us going. That whole third quarter, he was on fire. We just kept finding the hot hand.

The opposing coaches had differing viewpoints on Dengs performance.

You cant say enough about Luol, lauded Thibodeau. In my opinion, hes had an All-Star season in the first half. Hes done everything for our team."

Countered Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy: He Deng dominated the second half. We didnt guard him at all.

Additionally, Boozers blend of mid-range jumpers and low-post scoring was clicking, but perhaps more importantly, Thibodeau employed rookie backup center Omer Asik to guard Howard, which was somewhat successful. Asik didnt shut down Howard, but his length and size at least allowed the Bulls to respectably guard the All-Star one-on-one.

He turns every time to his right-hand hook shot. The coaches told me before the game, when he gets the ball, just close out to his left shoulder, Asik explained to CSNChicago.com. I tried to do that. I did it good sometimes; I did it bad sometimes.

The Bulls, in general, ramped up their intensity after the break, using stout defensive play to turn the tables on Orlando and build a double-digit cushion over the visitors, sending the United Center crowd into a mild state of ecstasy during an extended 20-5 run, prompting Van Gundy to halt the bleeding with a timeout.

Rose, while clearly not 100 percent he occasionally squatted or clutched his stomach during dead balls and an accidental blow to the face from former Bulls point guard Chris Duhon didnt help but his scoring presence and playmaking ability at less than full strength were more than enough to help the Bulls take a 80-68 lead into the fourth quarter.

This is the NBA: No Boys Allowed, said Rose afterwards. Mind over matter. I think about some of the old players. When they played, they had injuries that were worse than mine and they still fought through. I look at myself as an old-school type player and when I think back to those days, that really gets me through hard practices or hard games.

It feels like youve got a sword on your knee or something and every single time you get in the shower or water touches it, that burning sensation, because its open. So, every time I swallow, every time I eat something, you can feel it. Its sore, he continued. Going to the hole, I was hoping not to get hit in my stomach. There were a couple times I got hit, but if anything, I was trying not to lose my breath.

As the games stretch run approached, the Magic couldnt put more than a mild scare into the Bulls, as Arenas with starting point guard Jameer Nelson taking an early exit with a sore right knee, the enigmatic midseason acquisition became the teams primary ballhandler struggled with the dual responsibilities of defending Rose and running Orlandos offense effectively.

Howard continued to be a force, but the Magic couldnt quite get over the hump an Arenas transition layup with 1:28 to make it 93-90 was as close as theyd get as Deng made plays on both ends and Rose hit clutch free throws to seal the deal, fittingly serenaded by chants of M-V-P.

I hope my play says that, the way that I play. Of course, everybody wants to say that, but I hope you see the way that Im playing that Im one of the elite players in the NBA, said Rose. Its a lot of hard work, but if it wasnt for my teammates, I wouldnt be in this position.

Deng spoke of the significance of beating one of their conference rivals.

Big win. Its one of the teams in the Eastern Conference that everyone kind of looks up to and they beat us up pretty good the last time we played them, so we did a good job tonight, he said. The Bostons, Orlandos, Miamis, when we go out and beat those teams, I think we send a message out there that weve got a good team.

Concurred Gibson: This game was kind of a statement game because we know were going to see them in the future and the way they beat us last game, we didnt like that.

We had a lot of motivation. When we watched the film, we didnt look like our normal Chicago team, he went on to say. We rebound the ball well and play defense, and we didnt do any of those things the last game, so we just wanted to make a statement and play hard.

Boozer, with the experience of several playoff runs in Utah, took a different tact.

Its still January. Its not April, he remarked. Were not heading into the playoffs. Were not even at the All-Star break yet.

Perhaps, but it was the type of feel-good victory especially given the circumstances of the teams last meeting that at least provides inspiration down the line. Still, at the games conclusion, thoughts didnt waver far from Roses situation.

If tonight, I cant breathe or cant eat right or Im having stomach problems, Ill definitely let them the Bulls medical staff know, said Rose of his status for Saturdays back-to-back home game against the Indiana Pacers. But other than that, Im playing.

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.

Dwyane Wade tweets apology to fans after Bulls' lopsided loss in Atlanta

Dwyane Wade tweets apology to fans after Bulls' lopsided loss in Atlanta

For the opening three quarters in Atlanta, the Bulls were off. 

So off, in fact, that Dwyane Wade tweeted an apology to Chicago fans after the game. 

Thanks to a furious run by the Bulls' bench, the final score ended at a respectable 102-93. In reality, though, the Hawks dominated. 

Wade and company trailed by 29 points at half and 30 at the end of three. The 35-year-old shooting guard finished with a minus-18 and just four points while All-Star starter Jimmy Butler posted a team-low minus-22.

The Bulls will look to shake off their lopsided loss against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday. 

 

Fred Hoiberg after Bulls' embarrassing loss to Hawks: 'We're gonna look at everything'

Fred Hoiberg after Bulls' embarrassing loss to Hawks: 'We're gonna look at everything'

The bus was warm before the game started, as the Bulls looked like they wanted no parts of the Atlanta Hawks.

It was evident from the jump that playing with a full and healthy squad for one of the few times this season wasn't enough to arouse their competitive juices, as they put together arguably their worst 48-minute showing in a 102-93 loss at Philips Arena, dropping them to 21-23 in a game they trailed by as many as 34 points.

The practices have apparently been the sterling jewel of effort and competitiveness for the Bulls but it hasn't carried over through the season as the inconsistency continues to be maddening — one that seems to go beyond the "growing pains" mantra that's been fed by all involved so far this year.

"It could be things but I don't want to share it with the media," a sunglasses-clad Dwyane Wade said outside the locker room, in a rare mood of not being elaborative following a loss.

It appears even the professional's professional has gotten a bit more frustrated than usual — understandable considering the way the starters came out with a lack of energy, with more turnovers (eight) than field goals (six) in the first quarter.

"Continue to try to lead behind the scenes," Wade said. "Can't stop when it's bad, when it's good. You gotta be the same."

Fred Hoiberg, fed up with the starters, ran with the reserves for the fourth quarter and outscored the Hawks by nearly 25 points, bringing the lead to 95-90 with a minute left before a Dennis Schroeder jumper restored order with 52.6 seconds left.

Four Hawks scored in double figures led by Schroeder's 25 points and six assists and Paul Millsap scoring 14 while making all four of his shots in just 22 minutes of run.

[MORE BULLS: Dwyane Wade not buying into the Bosh to Bulls speculation]

Perhaps it's the Hawks being the same kryptonite to the Bulls that the Bulls are to the Toronto Raptors — except the Bulls simply frustrate the Raptors, not embarrass them.

"I have been, we have been, tired of this. I gotta come out better," said Jimmy Butler, who led the Bulls with 19 points in 29 minutes. "I gotta play better from the jump, 48 minutes. That's not the way we're supposed to play. 

"The way we practice is not the way we play in the game. Don't ask me why, I don't know. Starting with me and going down the line, we gotta be better as a whole. Otherwise we'll keep getting our asses beat and it's bad."

The Hawks shot over 60 percent for most of the night until the game devolved into what amounted to a pickup game late. After all, the Hawks seemed to be battling boredom by half, leading 65-36 and shooting 68 percent from the field and hitting 67 percent from three.

"We're gonna look at everything and we'll see how we go out and start tomorrow and a couple days after that, hopefully we figure some things out," Hoiberg said. "They shot over 70 percent in the first quarter and you dig yourselves a hole and it's impossible to get out."

Hoiberg said he would evaluate everything leading into Saturday's game at home against the Sacramento Kings, but Friday didn't seem to present any realistic lineup changes based on performance.

Bobby Portis scored 10 with seven rebounds off the bench, with Jerian Grant scoring 12 and Paul Zipser 10. Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic combined to shoot two for nine, so one wonders where Hoiberg can go.

"I don't know. Practice is good. Practice is great," Butler said. "Practice is not gonna win you games. We gotta take what we do in practice and take it over to the game."

The Bulls weren't about to make it any more suspenseful than it had to be, as they started off missing their first 11 3-pointers, often missing multiple open looks on the same possession.

It wasn't relegated to just shooting as the Bulls squandered easy opportunities in easy situations, like Denzel Valentine turning a three-on-one fast break into an airballed finger-roll attempt that he caught himself — a violation, of course.

"I don't know, I can't put a word on it. Because it's just talk," Butler said. "Doesn't matter what you say, if we don't go out there and do it, what the hell is talking gonna do? We've been up and down all year. If we don't guard and turn the ball over, games get out of hand very quickly."

This one was over a few minutes into it, as the Bulls looked like a lifeless squad with no direction and very little fight, short of a minor dustup between Dwight Howard and Robin Lopez in the third quarter.

At that point, though, all Howard had to do is point at the scoreboard, where a 30-point lead did all the necessary talking.

The Bulls trailed by 20 even before Tim Hardaway Jr. hit a 35-footer to end the first quarter, sending the Hawks off on a high and seemingly demoralizing the Bulls.

Even Butler's 19-point night, hitting six of his eight shots in 29 minutes, rang hollow. The Bulls could've trotted out a D-League team for the second half to gear up for Saturday's game against Sacramento and been better off than how they performed Friday night.

And for the Bulls, they can't simply just go back to the drawing board. There looks to be something fundamentally wrong with this bunch — either that, or the Atlanta night got the best of them Thursday.