Chicago Bulls

Rose leads Bulls over Clippers in 'personal' win

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Rose leads Bulls over Clippers in 'personal' win

Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011
Posted 11:58 p.m

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

LOS ANGELESVery personal. Thats how Derrick Rose described his approach to Wednesday nights 106-88 Bulls (34-14) winthe teams sixth consecutive victoryover the Clippers (19-29) at the Staples Center. In a battle of two of the games most exciting young players, the Bulls' All-Star point guard out-dueled rookie sensation Blake Griffin, exacting some revenge in the process.

The games two featured attractions lived up to the hype from the outset, with Rose scoring nine of the Bulls first 16 points and Griffin pouring in eight of the Clippers first 14 before the contests first timeout.

Rose (32 points, 11 assists, 4-for-8 on three-pointers) shelled the home teamand former coach, Vinny Del Negrowith his improved jumper, as well as his fearless and acrobatic driving finishes to the rim, thrilling the Staples Center crowd. Rose also got his teammates involved, finding the likes of Keith Bogans, Luol Deng (26 points, six rebounds, five assists, 3-for-6 on three-pointers) and Carlos Boozer (16 points, 10 rebounds) for assists.

They beat us last time. I wanted some revenge. It was because of me that we lost. I missed the free throw and that really hurt me, said Rose. In these types of games, you never want to be in those situations, where a free throw is the reason why we lost the game. We just wanted to come out here and be aggressive, and just try to take control of the game early.

Im the reason why we lost last time. I couldnt take the game into overtime, he continued. Tonight, I just tried to pull the game away and make it a comfortable game.

Added Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau: Thats who he is. Hes never satisfied, he wants the team to do well, hes always driving himself to get better. I thought he had great command in this game.

The way he started off this game set the tone for us. Very aggressive in the pick-and-roll, running the team, aggressive defensively, he went on to say. When hes going like that, it lifts the whole team.

Griffin (32 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists) didnt disappoint either, displaying a mid-range jumper to go with his relentlessness around the rim. A fast-paced affair at the beginning, the games speed waned a bit as the opening quarter went on, but Rose and Griffin both picked up the pace toward the end of the period, which ended with the Bulls holding a 28-23 advantage.

Chicagos second unit sustained the visitors lead, with reserve big man Taj Gibson (nine points, 12 rebounds)in a return to the city where he went to college at USCplaying with energy on the interior and both backup point guard C.J. Watson (nine points, 2-for-3 on three-pointers) and designated sharpshooter Kyle Korver (eight points, four assists, 2-for-5 on three-pointers) providing timely offense. Behind their bench, the Bulls lead surged to double digits before Thibodeau began to filter his regulars back into the contest.

The Clippers, however, were in no mood to lie down and made it a competitive affair, exciting an already-energized crowd. Starting shooting guard Randy Foye (14 points, four assists) sparked the home team, then a show-stopping alley-oop dunk by Griffin nearly brought down the house.

Deng, quietly having a solid night, made his presence felt in a louder fashion, drilling a pair of three-pointers to give the Bulls some breathing room. A flashpoint in the contest came when Griffinwho went on an individual tear late in the halfattempted a monster dunk and was fouled hard by Boozer (veteran Kurt Thomas, saddled with three first-half fouls, also laid some wood on the rookie previously in the quarter), earning a debatable flagrant foul call from the officials. Despite that, the Bulls led, 55-49, at the intermission.

Chicago started the second half on a 6-0 run, which was capped by a Clippers timeout and a technical foul on point guard Baron Davis (10 points, three assists). Rose, aided by Deng, propelled the Bulls during this stretch, and their winning margin grew to a comfortable cushion.

Boozer (benefiting greatly from Roses playmaking) began to assert himself, helping to sustain Chicagos double-figure lead. The home team again battled back, however, and behind journeyman forwards Ryan Gomes (16 points, six rebounds) and Ike Diogu, the Clippers briefly made it a single-digit affair, until a Rose three-pointer late in the quarter made it an 82-71 game after three periods of play.

Watson continued to be effective in relief of Rose, helping the Bulls keep the Clippers at bay until the All-Star point guard returned to the floor, despite Boozer picking up his third, fourth and fifth fouls in rapid succession. Although another Griffin highlight dunk got the home crowds attention, timely individual efforts by Rose and Gibson dampened their enthusiasm.

Afterwards, Thibodeau spoke proudly about how his team limited Griffins second-half scoring.

First half, Griffin just had his way, but I thought offensively we were good, I thought our rebounding was very good, I thought we shared the ball. Second half, I thought our defense was a lot better, he remarked. I didnt like him getting 25 first-half points, but we showed resiliency. We stayed with the plan, we really didnt adjust. It was just doing it better in the second half. We made him work, our help was a little bit better. Griffins a great player.

Gibson shared his coachs sentiments.

After the first half, it was frustrating because we talked about what we wanted to do in the beginning at shootaround. He had 25 points and that was embarrassing, Gibson told CSNChicago.com. Me and Kurt just switched out on him, tried to make his touches hard, force him to do things he didnt want to do. Hes a phenomenal player. We just played real tough tonight.

With the sellout crowds energy fading as the games stretch run approached, the home teams effort followed suit. Thibodeau didnt relax, however (he was assessed with a late technical foul) and neither did his players. A Korver three-pointer took the final gasp of air out of the building and after a Deng steal and subsequent layup on the other end, the game was effectively over, but not until a Rose jumper with under 10 seconds to go put his personal stamp on things.

Very personal, in fact.

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.

More muscle, more money, more confidence: Nikola Mirotic ready to show consistency for Bulls

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USA TODAY

More muscle, more money, more confidence: Nikola Mirotic ready to show consistency for Bulls

Nikola Mirotic didn’t exactly lumber over to the media after the Bulls’ first practice, as a new man armed with a two-year, $27 million deal and 22 pounds worth of additional weight from the summer, the first time in which he didn’t play overseas.

He claimed there were no hard feelings from the summerlong impasse with the Bulls, where his restricted free-agent status prevented him from truly getting to the market, and his career inconsistencies also made it tough for the Bulls to give him an extended contract.

“I knew it was going to happen because with me it’s like every time is the last second. I don’t know why,” Mirotic said. “They made me an offer at the beginning of free agency, so I didn’t take that deal.”

So while his saga dragged along after he couldn’t find suitors, he stayed in Chicago for the most part, adding the bulk—although some would say it was stress weight considering it’s believed Mirotic wanted a deal in the $16-17 million range annually.

“Some people thought I was worried with my contract. No, I was very calm, working here until the middle of August,” Mirotic said. “My weight is feeling great and I’m very excited. I’m looking forward to this season, you know.”

“I’m feeling good. I’ve never felt that strong in my legs, feeling better with the rebounding, and I worked all summer in the low post, especially when I play that pick-and-roll and they switch me, so I need to be available to play in the low post against small guys. I was really working on getting stronger down there so I can finish.”

Coming to Chicago with plenty of fanfare, Mirotic has shown flashes but never the consistency many expected. Slow starts were accompanied by strong finishes after the All-Star break and the cycle of “if Niko can get it right” started all over again—only leading to more frustration when expectations weren’t met.

“I know that you guys (media) are very disappointed. I saw that the last two, three years, those reactions to that,” Mirotic said. “It is what it is. I came back just thinking about what happened. I knew what happened. I worked on all my weaknesses this summer. It’s time to change some things. I’m in a place where I can improve and get better.”

This time last year, the Bulls did everything they could to make Mirotic seize the power forward spot in training camp. Too bad Taj Gibson wasn’t notified and outworked everybody to join the first five.

But Gibson was traded in midseason, Jimmy Butler was traded and Dwyane Wade was bought out Sunday night, leaving Mirotic as somewhat an elder statesman on a team that doesn’t carry any playoff expectations for the season.

Now he’ll have to battle rookie Lauri Markkanen and third-year forward Bobby Portis for minutes at power forward, since it doesn’t appear he’ll play any small forward after playing there sparingly his first two seasons.

One can see Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg playing Mirotic and Markkanen together at center and power forward to have two floor-stretchers—although defense and rebounding will be a concern in the pairing.

“Everything's open right now. Lauri obviously had a great summer,” Hoiberg said. “He's got to work himself back into great shape right now. Basically since the European championships have been over, he's taken time off to recover and regroup and recharge his batteries.

“Bobby Portis has had a great summer. He's been around pretty much every day since the summer league.”

Mirotic said he was notified by management in the exit meetings the team would look different, but didn’t foresee Butler being traded on draft night. Now as long as he stays healthy, he’ll be a primary option on offense and until Zach LaVine makes his Chicago debut—which likely won’t take place until mid-December—he’ll have plenty of time to display his versatility in Hoiberg’s free-flowing system.

“It’s great, especially knowing how Fred wants to play this year,” Mirotic said. “They’re going to play fast, there’s no more like holding the ball, playing isolation. Now it’s more free, like when we used to play with Rajon (Rondo) on that second unit. Just play free and share the basketball. This is how it’s going to look.”

Clearly one who’s aware of the prognosticators who’ve said the Bulls will finish at the bottom of the standings, Mirotic added a bit of a bold statement, although it should be taken with a grain of preseason salt.

“I don’t think we’re going to be that bad like people are thinking.’’

Report: Dwyane Wade is 'nearing a commitment' to team up with LeBron James, Cavs

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USA TODAY

Report: Dwyane Wade is 'nearing a commitment' to team up with LeBron James, Cavs

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are teaming up again, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Wade and James, of course, teamed up in Miami in 2010 and won two NBA titles. James then departed for Cleveland in 2015, and Wade signed with the Bulls last offseason after 13 years with the Heat.

The Bulls avoided a clearly awkward situation by agreeing to a buyout with Wade over the weekend before training camp began Tuesday.

Wade will also be teaming up with a fellow Chicago native in Derrick Rose, who signed for the NBA minimum earlier this offseason.