Game 48 Recap: Bulls 106, Clippers 88

Back on December 18, the Clippers beat the Bulls in the United Center when Derrick Rose missed a potential game tying free throw with 0.8 seconds left.

Rose never forgot it.

In the 22 games since, Rose had gone 140-for-160 from the line. That’s a conversion rate of 87.5 percent. Quite a difference from his career mark of 79.2 percent or even his in-season average of 82.4 percent.

That’s something people need to understand about Rose: He’s always getting better.

Think about it. He came into the league without a jump shot. Now he has one. Critics said he couldn’t hit the three-pointer. Now he’s connecting 38 percent of his treys. His court vision was questioned. Now he’s 10th in APG (8.2) and 8th in Assist Percentage (40.6). His defense was called out. Now his defense has improved by a wide margin and he currently ranks 10th in Defensive Win Shares. Earlier this season, ESPN’s John Hollinger wrote that his lack of free throw attempts was preventing him from being an elite point guard. Rose went on to average eight foul shots per game in January.

The game matters to him. Being the best matters to him.

So it should come as no surprise that Derrick wanted payback for that earlier loss to The Other L.A. Team.

Said Rose: “They beat us last time. I wanted some revenge. It was because of me that we lost [in December] where I missed the free throw. And that really hurt me. If anything, it made me stronger as a player.”

It sure did.

The game began with a thrilling first quarter duel between Rose and Blake Griffin, who, by the way, is every bit as good as billed. The Clippers are just as lucky to have Griffin as the Bulls are to have Rose.

Fortunately for Chicago, Vinny Del Negro was coaching from the other bench.

Rose cooled off in the second quarter but returned with a (you guessed it) vengeance in the third quarter, scoring 12 points and dishing out three assists as the Bulls outscored the Clippers 27-22 to take an 11-point lead into the fourth quarter. That’s when the Chicago defense kicked in, limiting L.A. to 17 points over the final 12 minutes, effectively putting the game out of reach.

It says something that Griffin could have a superhero-like game (32 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists) and the Bulls could soundly beat a Clippers team that had been red-hot at home. It also says something that Rose was getting “M-V-P!” chants on the road in L.A. (Although that probably says more about the historically morbid quality of the Clippers franchise than Rose’s MVP candidacy.)

The Bulls have now won six in a row and are tied (with Miami) for the third-best record in the NBA (behind Boston and San Antonio). And I feel the need to point this out again: Joakim Noah hasn’t played in a month and a half. The Bulls are now 18-6 in his absence. Thanks to the Double Ds: Defense and D-Rose.

Rose finished with a co-game-high 32 points along with a game-best 11 assists. He shot the ball efficiently from three-point range (4-for-8) and overall (11-for-18). He did miss two of his eight free throw attempts, the second of which really upset him despite the fact that the Bulls were up 103-85 with 1:08 left in the game.

I’m okay with Rose expecting perfection, though.

Said Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau: “I think that’s who he is. I think he’s never satisfied. He wants the team to do well. He’s always driving himself to get better. I thought he had great command in this game. I thought the way he started off the game set the tone for us. Very aggressive. Pick and roll, running the team. I thought [he was] aggressive defensively. I thought he did a lot of good things and when he’s going like that, he lifts the whole team.”

Other notables: Carlos Boozer had another double-double (16 points, 10 boards). Taj Gibson (9 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocked shots) and C.J. Watson (9 points, 3-for-4, 2-for-3 on threes, 2 rebounds, 2 assists) provided a lift off the bench.

And how about Luol Deng?

Look, we all know Lu will probably never be an All-Star. But night in, night out, he morphs into whatever the Bulls need him to be. And last night, he had an All-Star level game that, because of the Blake and Derrick Show, went almost unnoticed: 26 points, 9-for-17 from the field, 3-for-6 from beyond the arc, 5-for-5 from the line, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and a game-best plus-minus score of +18 in a team-high 39 minutes and 23 seconds of action.

Everything the Bulls do revolves around Rose. Boozer’s inside game keeps the Bulls from being a jumpshot-only team. But although the NBA doesn’t give out an award for it, Deng has been one of the best “Third Guys” in the league this season.

At any rate, it was a nice way to start this current five-game road trip. You know, Rose says he wants to win all five games.

Do you doubt him?

Bonus stat:
From the AP game notes: “The Bulls have held opponents to fewer than 100 points in 13 straight games and 19 of 20. They are 31-6 this season when giving up fewer than 100 and 0-8 when allowing 100 or more in a regulation game.”

Recap, Box Score, Play-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos.

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23 Responses to Game 48 Recap: Bulls 106, Clippers 88

    Rhett February 3, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

    Both teams played well. The Bulls squarely defeated the Clippers.

    Rebounding made the difference last night. Bigs boxed out, not letting the Clips get their usual offensive Rebounds.

    Important to mention,when a reporter asked Rose what record would he like to come out of this road trip with, Rose said 5-0. Hinrich would have said 3-2.

  2. Super Joe February 3, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    ooooohhhhwweeeeee this Bulls team is legit! That was a fantastic performance last night.

  3. Tae February 3, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

    Enjoyed the chats on the DDL, Matt. Speaking of Rose’s 3, is that near-40 percentage adjusted with or without the 1-2 desperation buzzer beater shots that Rose throws out every game? I think his true 3-percentage is actually in the 42-43% range.

  4. Inception February 3, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    CHI would win 70+ games if rose had a 30/10, low turnover game every night…so dangerous.

    one of Rose’s best games of the season…loved that it came on the road.

    brandon1 February 3, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    Loved the win. I questioned why the starters were still putting minutes in late in that 4th quarter. The game was won. No reason for Deng to go 39 minutes.

    chitown4life February 3, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

    I must keep on saying this MVP DRose he has the numbers he has the mins and he has the game to match anyone whoim others think should win this award . I will not be mad but will be shocked if he does not win this award but the gaol is to win it all.This team has a chance to do just that this year have been saying it all year long , I myself was not sure if boozer was gonna be better than Bosh would of been but i am sold bosh is a cupcake as Kevin said he is an uncover want to be tough guy talking trash. Good or great players only talk what they can back up on the court and
    Bosh yr soft so shut ala Omer Asik hit my legs I got kids to feed , please.I want to see this current team together for a long time they are only getting better and if that is the case why should any changes be made, stay with what you got and work it til it cannot be worked anymore.The game last night was off the hook as far as what our coach deems mins plaed that is why he is the coach I owe TT a sry cause was not sure if he would be a good head coach well he is and glad he is our coach.Peace

    BoppinBob February 3, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

    Matt, I thought that you were bigger than the cheap shot you took at VDN. He did a very good job with limited talent the two seasons he coached the Bulls. When VDN’s Bulls took the floor you could expect top notch effort. He is not the caliber of thibs but he did the best job he could with the talent available and the circumstances he had to deal with.

    Tony C. February 3, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

    BoppinBob –

    I am very surprised that you take such a positive view of VDN’s tenure in Chicago. Other than stimulating “effort”, did you really see him leading or developing the team in any meaningful ways?

    In other words, can you identify any other strengths that he brought to the table? I can’t. In fact, he struck me as being extremely limited in every fundamental aspect of the game.

  9. TBF February 3, 2011 at 5:10 pm #

    I guess when TT says “We need to be a 48 minute team” what he means is “Luol Deng needs to play 48 minutes per game”. Why were the starters in when the game is well in hand? You haven’t been down less than 13 or so in the second half, put in the back-ups. There’s no reason we should be chancing our season if Rose or Luol gets hurt in the waning minutes of a game that’s already decided.

    39 minutes for Luol in a blow-out is way too much. There’s still a lot of season left; don’t blow our players’ legs this early.

    Sam February 3, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

    I moved to LA from Chicago about 8 years ago. Every year I go to Staples to see the Bulls. I’ve never been so excited to go to a game as I was last night and it didn’t disappoint. D-Rose was in “FU” mode the entire game and just kept making ridiculous plays.

    Both Rose and Griffin had moments where a play didn’t go their way and they immediately made up for it. For Rose, it was when he made a long 2-pointer he thought was a 3, so the next possession he just dribbled up and nailed one from behind the arc. They ended up crediting his first shot as a 3 later in the game, so I guess that means he was right.

    For Griffin it was a rebound that DeAndre Jordan knocked out of his hands and out of bounds. On the ensuing Bulls possession, he ensured the stop and ATTACKED the glass getting the board.

    Both players are extremely impressive in person, the league is lucky to have such talent.

    J February 3, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

    “It says something that Griffin could have a superhero-like game (32 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists) and the Bulls could soundly beat a Clippers team that had been red-hot at home.”
    Dwight Howard came here last Friday and had a monster night and we still got the job done. I think that’s a sign of the strength of our team defense more than anything; although we may have a glaring weakness at defending the post, our sum is more than the parts with our final defensive products.
    Go Bulls baby. . .

    Matt McHale February 3, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    First off, I agree with everybody about how many minutes Thibs tends to play the starters. It worries me. A lot.

    Tae — 38 percent includes his desperation shots. I cringe every time I see him take those…but it’s a sign that he plays to win, not for stats.

    BoppinBob — I wasn’t trying to be unfair. You can go back into the archives and see that I always tried to give Vinny his due, but, honestly, he was only taking us so far. He maxed out what he was going to give this team and move on. I am, in fact, happy to see him coaching, but somewhere else. Thibs is better. That’s not a knock on VDN.

    Savage February 3, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    Rose is the only player in the NBA to be in the top ten in both points and assists….Enough said.

    DS February 3, 2011 at 6:48 pm #


    I loved your shot at VDN. It was funny and true. It’s not that he’s a bad guy or a bad coach, he’s just mediocre. For example, he did well to contribute to the development of DRose, Noah, and Taj. But, he was an awful game manager. And certainly not as good as Thibs at maximizing effort.

    I also had a great feeling of relief seeing VDN on the other sideline last night. Right at the end of the 1st half, the Clips got a timeout to call a set play, and I just felt an overwhelming sense of confidence that the Clips had no chance of scoring. Sure enough, no bucket — and I’m pretty sure the possession led to a bad shot. So glad to see Thibs on our sideline!

    One last point: when Noah comes back, Deng has to be one of the best #4 guys in the league. What other teams have that type of consistent quality in their top 4? On the other hand, as we go forward, I think the dropoff at our SG position and bench compared to other elite teams will keep us from contending for a title this year. For example, look at the quality and depth of LAL, BOS, SAS, DAL, ORL (not so much Miami but they’re weird cause their top 3 are ridiculous). In a 7 game series, there is just too much pressure on our starter to outplay the other team’s starters, because once we go to the bench we will probably outmatched.

    Gorditadog February 3, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    Vinnie has done a good job for the Clips, they are better than people expected, even with their injury problems (Kaman, Davis, Gordon).

    The biggest upgrade the Bulls made during the offseason though was getting Tibs. Sorry Boozington but it is true.

    And DS I agree with you that we have some weaknesses on our bench. But teams tend to shorten their rotations in the playoffs. The most important thing come playoff time is to have extra bigs in case you get into foul trouble, and I think we are good there. I expect we will pick up another shooter before the deadline, but if even if we stand pat I think we will be fine.

    Luke February 4, 2011 at 3:48 am #

    Tony C., I don’t think you grasped the big picture when VDN was our coach. We can all agree that DRose years 1-2 were far different than DRose year 3, plus he has Boozer, Brewer, Korver and a better Noah (although hurt now). 2nd, coaching isn’t simply what we can see when we are watching on TV. Ask Jordan who the most influential coach he has had in his career and guaranteed Collins is right up there with Smith and Jackson. You know why? Not because Collins had the best plays or system… nope, its because he gave a young MJ a chance to figure out his role in the NBA on his own. I see VDN playing a very similar role in DRose’s case. He didn’t have some intricate system where the players had to do exactly what he wanted in order to work. He had a very, very simple system which allowed the players to figure a lot of stuff out on their own. While this doesn’t translate to Ws when the players figuring things out are in their early years, it does help down the road in their development.

    So I think you need to give VDN his due. He was exactly what we needed for those 2 years, he filled his role, and now we have a great coach.

    The only thing that worries me about Thibs is the skiles effect… how long are the players going to be able to listen to him scream and yell the whole game? I mean we can hear it on tv… how do you think they feel when its targeted at them. I know he isnt exactly criticizing them, but helping actually, yet in the end these guys are multi-million dollar superstars. Eventually, after a few seasons of success and winning, they are going to start taking full credit for what the team does and they are going to get sick of someone who is always yelling, whether its advice or criticism.

    inkybreath February 4, 2011 at 6:17 am #

    The Skiles Effect shouldn’t be a problem, as long as they stay between close to or above the .700 win percentage.

    I don’t think th(os)e players could give all that Skiles wanted to win half their games.

    J February 4, 2011 at 7:15 am #

    Whether derrick is mvp, boozer or deng should be in all star game, or whether bogans really has a good influence on wins, I really don’t know.

    But I do know one thing, I love this team. I watch every game I can. I just remember the days between the jordan era, the curry’s, pfizer’s, duhon’s, etc. of the world and I smile. =)

    I can’t wait for Noah to come back too.

    Tony C. February 4, 2011 at 2:01 pm #

    luke –

    Sorry, I don’t buy your argument that letting players (young or not) do whatever they want is a positive thing. VDN was way over his head, and was not a good coach.

    What I will agree with you on is that X’s and O’s are not everything, and it is very important for coaches to relate well to their players. VDN was probably decent in that regard, but only good coaches combine both crucial elements.

    chitown4life February 4, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    wait there is alot of hating going on here not gonna get into that.the bulls now have just been shunned or dissed again , its time for the league to be givin notice our Bulls are the second best team i the league , we have one if not the best point guard in the league , also we have a top Pf and Sf also Center.Why then is our team being dissed like it is the other big three in Miami, as good as they think they may be for all the hype whom have they beat.We beat them yes minus LBj but still we had no Noah,also we beat boston also the Magic also L.A lakers.The stuff has to stop somewhere this is the year I hope our baby Bulls who have grown , inforce there game and wil on the league its long over due.Its gonna be great watching Rose break ankles in the all star game hope he does not play modest and defer to other players, Iwanna see him take over and shine big time prime time in La La land enough said about that.For the L Deng haters or bogans none lovers Get off there backs our team is clicking and yes they are on it and both are doing what they are suppose to be doing …Peace

    BoppinBob February 4, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    @Tony, the Clippers started out 1-13 and are presently 19-29 (18-16) since the first 124 games. They’ve had wins against the Bulls, Heat, Lakers, Nuggets and Spurs. I agree that VDN leaves something to be desired as a bench coach. But you must agree that with the talent he had on the Bulls he exceded expectations getting to the playoffs two years in a row, especially after losing 2 of his top 7 players last season. He is at least a good motivator. He did not lose his locker room while with the Bulls and he has not lost his players with the Clippers after the 1-13 start. I agree that Thibs is a substantial upgrade.
    But VDN was not chopped liver.

    Luke February 4, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    Yeah, I am not really going to continue this argument with you Tony C., because you seem pretty stuck in what you think. But I am pretty sure that I would trust Michael Jordan’s opinion of coaches over yours.

    And just to clarify, I was not assuming that MJ thinks very highly of Collins… Jordan is quoted glorifying him for giving him the room he needed to develop as a young player. I’ll have to go back and find the quote

    Luke February 4, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

    And I agree with boppin… VDN does more than he gets credit for

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