Uh, yeah. About that Derrick Rose guy…
Bulls fans don’t really need to be convinced that Rose is a special player, a real superstar in the making. But last night’s performance — during which he led the Bulls back from a 21-point third quarter deficit — provides some strong validation for all the positive vibes.
The line: 39 points, 13-for-27 from the field, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocked shots. Given the circumstances, I’m willing to overlook the 7 turnovers. Mostly.
Rose did was superstars have to do: Hit tough shots, set up teammates, and go at it on both ends of the court. Admittedly, Rose did a lot of his damage from the outside — he was only 2-for-6 at the rim — but Derrick was aggressive enough to earn a game-high 13 free throws.
That’s a big number…an an important one. We know Rose can get to the hoop. We also know he can hit jumpers. But he doesn’t always draw the contact necessary to get foul shots. Last season, Rose had only five games in which he reached double digit free throw attempts.
While I’m handing out credit, I have to give kudos to Joakim Noah (15 points, 17 rebounds, 3 blocks). He was a beast on the boards and a big-time spark plug.
Oh, and speaking of spark plugs: Welcome into our hearts, James Johnson. JJ gave the Bulls major production in the 19 minutes he played off the bench: 8 points, 9 boards, 4 assits, 2 steals and 3 blocked shots. I might have to reconsider my fear that JJ can’t become a consistent contributor to the team.
Johnson’s performance as big-time, especially since Luol Deng (9 points, 2-for-10, 2 rebounds) decided not to take the night off.
On the subject of not showing up, the shooting guard triumverate of Keith Bogans (1-for-5), Kyle Korver (1-for-5) and Ronnie Brewer (1-for-3) pulled a collective no-show. (Although, to be fair, the Bulls were +16 with Korver on the floor.) It was enough to generate wistful nostolgia for the Ben Gordon era. Speaking of Little Ben, he dropped 21 points on his former team in the first half.
Fortunately, Gordon was blanked in the second half.
Speaking of which, this win wouldn’t have been possible without the team defense. The Bulls blocked 10 shots and scored 21 points off 18 forced turnovers. They held the Pistons to 37 percent shooting, which included 4-for-21 shooting during Detroit’s 9-point fourth quarter. Chicago put the clamps on down the stretch.
Of course, the Pistons were coming off a tough 105-104 home loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder the night before. That might have had something to do with their collapse. I don’t mean to be a wet blanket, but teams do tend to suffer late-game fades on the second night of back-to-backs.
Still, it was a nice win, and it always feels good when your team’s best player blows up.