Rose outduels Kobe, Bulls pass Lakers test


Rose outduels Kobe, Bulls pass Lakers test

Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010
Posted 9:44 PM Updated 12:40 AM

By Aggrey Sam

After the Lakers shootaround Friday morning at the United Center, superstar Kobe Bryant told reporters that he wouldnt willingly pass the torch to Derrick Rose, but Rose could certainly try.

Well, in the evenings matchup of the Bryant-led defending champions and the Bulls, Rose did just that, willing Chicago (13-8) to victory over the Lakers (16-7), 88-84, the teams fourth straight win.

When you beat the champions, theres nothing you can say about that. We won this game fair and square. Its our first time and were all happy about it, said Rose afterwards. We can beat anybody in the league. Weve just got to come out, play hard, play the way we know how to play, put our defense first and well be fine.

It means a lot when somebody gives you that type of credit. Kobe, I look up to him. If anything, thats what I take from his game. He knows how to put people away right when they get the lead. Hes the best player in the game right now, continued Rose. Im just balling. I wasnt thinking about taking any torch or anything. As long as we keep winning, that gets people everything in this league.

A four-possession exchange of scores between the two squads started the contest, leaving the early impression that it would be a shootout between Lakers head coach Phil Jacksons current and former teams.

The visiting defending champions soon seized the upper hand in the opening period, with Chicagos defensive lapses leading to easy jaunts to the rim precipitated by players moving well without the ball and two quick timeouts called by Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau.

The Lakers frontcourt duo of Lamar Odom (18 points, eight rebounds) and Pau Gasol (21 points, eight rebounds) likely with revenge on his mind after Joakim Noahs defensive job against him last month in Los Angeles victimized Chicago inside, using their length and mobility to dominate the interior in the early going.

Shooting woes a 3-for-15 start to the game and careless turnovers added to the Bulls early miseries, putting them in a double-digit hole, 22-12, after a quarter of play.

In a battle of the benches besides the presence of Gasol for the Lakers the Bulls mostly broke even with the visitors, which would normally be acceptable, but not with the deficit they faced and the previous ineffectiveness of the starters.

Chicagos lack of playmaking and a scoring presence in reserve was evident against a deep Lakers squad that maintained efficient execution, tough defense and high energy.

I thought the energy by our second group and then I thought Carlos got going in the post, and I thought that gave us better floor balance, getting back in transition, and I thought our defense was better, said Thibodeau. After the first quarter, I thought our team defense was much better, I thought our bigs were communicating a lot better, I thought our guards were reacting a lot quicker and I thought we did a good job for three quarters, but we cant afford to do that. Weve got to become a 48-minute team.

Upon the reentry of Rose (29 points, nine assists, five rebounds) who struggled through a poor shooting first quarter the Bulls received a boost of energy, as the ever-competitive South Sider was chomping at the bit to get his team back into the contest.

Soon joined by fellow starters Noah (nine points, nine rebounds) and Carlos Boozer (10 points, 11 rebounds), Roses mentality of carrying his team in times of adversity immediately came to the forefront, although Bryant (23 points, seven assists, five rebounds) thriving in the role of facilitator on this evening countered by setting up his teammates for easy opportunities.

Propelled by Rose, the long-range shooting of reserve sharpshooter Kyle Korver (13 points) and the timely scoring of Luol Deng (14 points), the Bulls made a quick push to get back into the contest.

After missing badly on his early attempts, Korver settled into a groove, stretching the Lakers defense due to Roses ability to penetrate and Boozers low-post presence, the visitors had to guard him honestly with his deep range, playing a significant part in the Bulls comeback.

We just kept battling. Coach always tells us to play with an edge, so thats what we tried to do, keep going out there playing hard and they let us back into the game, said Rose. "Getting out on the fast break, that changed the whole game. Kyle came in and hit a lot of big shots, Booz and Jo got a lot of layups, just trying to get to the line.

The bench came in and played good for us when we had the lead, just keeping the lead, making sure they were on their heels. When the starters came in, we messed it up a little bit. Then, we got it going.

A trademark acrobatic Rose circus shot with two minutes remaining in the second period gave the home team its first advantage since the games opening minutes.

Now the Lakers were the discombobulated bunch, unable to function cohesively as an offensive unit unforced errors and extremely errant marksmanship (4-for-15 in the second quarter) were their biggest issues and permitting the Bulls to get the shots they wanted on the other end of the floor, as Chicago went on a 21-5 run to go into the half with a 36-32 advantage following a Rose floater just before the buzzer.

The second half started like the first; both teams executed at a high level, yielding good opportunities for both teams, but particularly the Lakers, who capitalized on Chicagos missed open shots.

Still, the game evolved into a back-and-forth affair, with Rose continuing to be the Bulls protagonist, Noah elevating his activity level and Deng and Boozer chipping in as secondary scorers.

Despite consistent solid play from the Lakers aforementioned inside tandem, Noahs energetic efforts in the paint and rebounding, Boozers ability to draw the defense and make smart passes, the fresh legs of reserve swingman Ronnie Brewer (10 points, four rebounds) off the bench and Roses burgeoning outside shooting the All-Star point guard knocked down a pair of triples in the period all combined to give the Bulls a slight cushion over the visitors. Through three quarters, Chicago held a 66-58 advantage.

Regardless of the helter-skelter beginning to the final stanza, Chicagos reserves with the addition of Noah did a solid job holding serve. While their offense couldnt be described as efficient, the second unit manufactured transition opportunities and defended well enough to initially keep the Lakers at bay until both squads regulars started trickling back into the contest.

For the visitors, that meant Bryants return to the game and while he made an immediate impact, it was countered by the reappearance of Rose a fallaway shot from the corner (initially ruled a 3-pointer, it was later changed to two points after being reviewed by officials) to beat the shot clock best illustrated this point, although his playmaking was equally valuable who made a similarly instant contribution to the home teams cause, keeping the Bulls winning margin intact.

As the games stretch run approached, it appeared that each team would rightfully live or die based on the play and decision-making of their respective superstars.

I dont mean to put former Bulls guard and Roses agent B.J. Armstrong in it, but he says thats when a good players supposed to take over the game and thats all I was trying to do and the shots, thank God, went in, explained Rose of his mindset. I was surprised I hit it. You just get more comfortable in those types of situations and once again, Thibs called my play and it went in.

If it wasnt for my teammates, theres no way that Id be able to take those shots like that or drive like that. They have a lot of confidence in me and if anybody, theyre the ones that helped, he continued. Thank God we were up that many points, thats what we were thinking about. Theyre a team that can cut a lead down very quickly, especially with the players that they have and we were just balling.

The veteran Bryant, however, armed with a superior supporting cast, had the luxury of functioning primarily as a facilitator first and scorer second, as his teammates proved more capable of making things happen and simply making shots than the role-playing Bulls, whose lead seemingly became increasingly tenuous as the games waning moments grew closer.

The thing about Kobe is youre never really going to stop him. Youve got to make him work as much as possible. I thought Gasol got going early on us and that was a big concern. I thought that was what gave them the big advantage to start the game, but when Kobes out there, he can score so quickly on you, you never feel the lead is safe, said Thibodeau.

You have to play tough and he does it so many different ways. He can catch you in transition, he finds the corners very quickly if you over-help, hes great moving without the ball you turn your head on him, hes going to cut theres just so many things that he does that puts so much pressure on you and I think it makes the game so much easier for all the others. Hes so unselfish.

A corner 3-pointer by Lakers point guard Derek Fisher cut the Bulls lead to three with 48.4 seconds left, but Rose worked his magic once again, draining a fadeaway jumper from just past the left elbow to put Chicago up, 85-80, with 25.2 seconds to play, effectively ending the entertaining affair.

While no torch was officially passed the prideful Bryant still has a lot left in the tank the United Center crowds serenade of M-V-P was only fitting for the ever-blossoming young superstar, who just added another notch to his belt.

His will is special. The corner wasnt a three, but that shot at the end of the shot clock plays like that, praised Thibodeau. He made a lot of big plays throughout the game and I thought he really worked at playing defense. His all-around game was terrific.

Afterwards, the always-gracious Rose spoke about the adulation of Bulls fans and the teams potential.

It feels good, but I cant let it go to my head. Weve still got a lot more games to gowere just trying to bring excitement back to the city, said Rose. I love when the crowds in it. They deserve it. The team is bringing excitement back to the city, along with the other sports thats here and giving people something to brag about.

You know whos going to be at big games. Hopefully we just stay rolling, stay playing good together and we need to jell a little bit more, he added. Were moving in the right direction.

Aggrey Sam is'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.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Looking ahead to opening night matchup against Celtics

Bulls Talk Podcast: Looking ahead to opening night matchup against Celtics

In our latest installment of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski and Kendall Gill get you set for opening night against the Celtics. 

They debate realistic expectations for the team and break down the decision to start Taj Gibson at power forward. Later, Schanowski and Gill analyze the team's biggest concern, defense. 

Finally, CSN New England's Celtics Insider A. Sherrod Blakely joins the panel to discuss what Rajon Rondo has left in the tank. 

Check out the latest edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast below: 

Mark Schanowski's 2016-17 NBA playoff predictions

Mark Schanowski's 2016-17 NBA playoff predictions

With the 2016-17 NBA season tipping off tonight with three games, here's a look at how the playoff races might end up.

Let's start with the West, where Kevin Durant's move from Oklahoma City to Golden State may have shifted the balance of power for the next half decade.

1. Golden State (Projected record, 67-15). Sure, it might take the Warriors a little time to build their on-court chemistry, but if you watched any of the preseason games, that lineup is absolutely lethal. Durant looks relaxed in his new environment, and will get more open 3's than he ever could have imagined in Oklahoma City. The "Splash Brothers", Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, should be more rested come playoff time since they won't have to do all the heavy lifting during the regular season. Add in do-everything forward Draymond Green, underrated veteran center Zaza Pachulia and elite sixth man Andre Iguodala, and it's pretty clear Steve Kerr's guys will run away and hide from the rest of the Western Conference field.

2. L.A. Clippers (55-27). It's now or never for Doc Rivers' crew, with a number of key players potentially headed for free agency next summer, including starters Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and J.J. Redick. Griffin got off to a fast start a year ago, but then saw his season ruined by injuries and a suspension for fighting with a team employee. Paul is still an elite point guard, but may decide to leave if things don't go well this time around. Lots of talent on this roster including first-team All-NBA center DeAndre Jordan, and Rivers again tweaked his bench with the addition of free agent stretch five Marreese Speights (from Golden St.), forward Brandon Bass and swingman Alan Anderson.

3. San Antonio (53-29). Never underestimate the ability of Gregg Popovich to put together a championship contender, but with Tim Duncan retired and Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker past their prime, the Spurs don't seem to have the ingredients to survive three brutally tough playoff rounds in the West. This team now belongs to Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge, with former Bulls center Pau Gasol taking over for Duncan. The Spurs are trying to get younger, but it looks like the championship window may have closed.

4. Houston (50-32). Interesting experiment by first year coach Mike D'Antoni to put ball-dominant guard James Harden at point guard. I guess D'Antoni figured since he has the ball in his hands all the time, what's the difference? It's no secret Harden did not get along with big man Dwight Howard (who's now in Atlanta), and he could put up MVP-type numbers this season with the freedom he'll get at the offensive end. More importantly, the addition of three-point shooting threats Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon in free agency could make the Rockets one of the most entertaining teams to watch on League Pass.

5. Portland (49-33). How about another first round playoff shootout between the Blazers and Rockets? We could do a lot worse. C.J. McCollum cashed in big-time after winning the league's Most Improved Player Award, and you can pencil the Blazers backcourt in for about 50 points a night with Damian Lillard emerging as a top 10-15 player in the league. Portland could use a little more punch in the frontcourt, but with wingmen Evan Turner and Allen Crabbe also capable of scoring points in bunches, they should be okay with a big man rotation of Mason Plumlee, former Illini Meyers Leonard, former Warrior Festus Ezeli and young power forwards Ed Davis and Noah Vonleh.

6. Dallas (46-36). Rick Carlisle is one of the NBA's best coaches, and he'll figure out a way to build another playoff team around the skills of all-time great Dirk Nowitzki. Dallas added Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut from the Warriors, and should benefit from a full season from Wesley Matthews. Former Illini star Deron Williams returns to run the point, and the bench is decent with J.J. Barea, Justin Anderson, Dwight Powell and Seth Curry, who played very well late in the season with Sacramento.

7. Oklahoma City (44-38). Russell Westbrook is determined to keep his team in the playoffs without Kevin Durant, which means you can count on Russ playing at an MVP level this season, possibly averaging 30-8-8. I like the addition of Victor Oladipo at shooting guard, but the Thunder sacrificed power forward Serge Ibaka in the process. OKC still has its big man duo of Steven Adams and Enes Kanter, but a lot of question marks with depth on the perimeter.

8. Utah (43-39). After just missing the playoffs a year ago, the Jazz should find a way to break through this time around. Gordon Hayward is one of the league's most underrated talents, and Utah should really benefit from the addition of veteran point guard George Hill, plus proven winners like Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw to help out their talented young players. Derrick Favors has quietly emerged as a rock solid power forward, with the "Stifle Tower", Rudy Gobert anchoring the defense from the center position.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Now to the East, where everyone's chasing the reigning champions.

1. Cleveland (58-24). The Cavs should really go over the 60-win plateau, but LeBron James understands it's all about the playoffs, and will sit out a number of regular season games to stay fresh. The roster is almost identical to last year's, except for the addition of former Bulls' forward Mike Dunleavy and rookie point guard Kay Felder. Don’t be surprised though if the Cavs wind up signing former Heat point guard (and James teammate) Mario Chalmers when he’s fully recovered from injury. Assuming everyone stays healthy, look for Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and J.R. Smith to take on a lot of the scoring load during the season, and let LeBron put on his Superman cape for Round 3 against Golden St. in the Finals.

2. Boston (52-30). The Bulls' opening night opponent should be stronger than ever with the addition of All-Star big man Al Horford and lottery pick Jaylen Brown. Former Butler coach Brad Stevens didn't take long to master the NBA game, and has waves of perimeter talent to run at opposing teams, led by All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas. Small forward Jae Crowder stole a page from his former Marquette teammate Jimmy Butler on how to be a force at both ends of the court, while big men Amir Johnson, Kelly Olynyk and Tyler Zeller work well in Stevens' system.

3. Toronto  (50-32). Another 50-win season is in the cards for the team from the Great White North. The Raptors kept shooting guard DeMar DeRozan with a huge contract in free agency, and he'll again team with Kyle Lowry to form one of the league's best backcourts. Toronto needs more production from talented, but inconsistent center Jonas Valanciunas and a full season of health from defensive menace DeMarre Carroll. Depth could be an issue, especially with free agent addition Jared Sullinger already sidelined because of foot surgery.

4. Indiana (49-33). The Pacers decided to make a coaching change after last season's first round playoff exit because team president and Hall of Famer Larry Bird wanted to play faster. So, former assistant coach Nate McMillan replaces Frank Vogel, and the Pacers traded for long-time Hawks' point guard Jeff Teague to push the pace. Paul George is primed for the best season of his career, and Indiana made a great under-the-radar pick-up by acquiring power forward Thaddeus Young from Brooklyn. Second-year center Myles Turner should also have a big impact as a scorer and shot blocker. The Pacers also have scoring power off the bench with Al Jefferson, Rodney Stuckey and C.J. Miles. Great offseason for Larry Legend.

5. Detroit (47-35). Stan Van Gundy has done a tremendous job changing the culture in the Motor City, getting shoot-first point guard Reggie Jackson to buy in to his philosophy, while staying patient with Andre Drummond's free throw shooting woes. Drummond is a monster on the boards, and one of the league's best centers overall. Van Gundy also has done a good job on the personnel front, stealing talented forward Tobias Harris from Orlando at the trade deadline last season, and picking up Stanley Johnson and Henry Ellenson in the draft. Jackson will miss the start of the year after foot surgery, but the Pistons should take off when he returns.

6. Atlanta (46-36). It will be interesting to see how the Dwight Howard experiment works in Atlanta, because Howard destroyed team chemistry with the Lakers and Rockets. Howard looked good in the preseason, but will he start to pout in a 3-point heavy offense? Former Bull Kyle Korver is still going strong at the age of 35, Kent Bazemore is a better than average two-way wing player and Paul Millsap is an All-Star going into a free agent season. Biggest question for the Hawks: Is Dennis Schroder ready to be the full-time point guard, or did Mike Budenholzer make a mistake by trading Jeff Teague?

7. BULLS (45-37). One thing we know for sure, the Bulls won't be boring this season with the addition of strong-minded veterans Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. Wade seems genuinely excited about playing in his hometown, and Rondo spent all summer at the training facility getting to know head coach Fred Hoiberg and his new teammates. Jimmy Butler will be asked to increase his scoring from his two previous All-Star seasons, and the Bulls are counting on Doug McDermott to emerge as an offensive force off the bench. Robin Lopez will provide an upgrade over injury-plagued Joakim Noah in the middle, and the power forward tandem of Taj Gibson and Niko Mirotic should be solid. If newcomers Michael Carter-Williams and rookie Denzel Valentine can gel quickly as the reserve backcourt duo, the Bulls have the potential to be one of the NBA's biggest surprises.

8. Charlotte (43-39). Hornets coach Steve Clifford is a Tom Thibodeau disciple, emphasizing defense over everything else. Charlotte lost productive veterans Al Jefferson, Jeremy Lin and Courtney Lee in free agency, but the cupboard is hardly bare. Point guard Kemba Walker could make the All-Star team this season, and perimeter players Nicolas Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marvin Williams all bring something different to the table. Depth will be the biggest issue with former Bull Marco Belinelli and Chicago-area product Frank Kaminski being asked to provide offense off the bench.

I would like to tell you we should expect some big surprises when we get to the playoffs in mid-April, but it’s hard to envision any team beating Golden State or Cleveland in a best of 7 series. Round 3 between the Warriors and Cavs will find Kevin Durant celebrating his first NBA championship after a Game 6 win at Oracle Arena.