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