Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose

Rose still wants 'that shot' -- and delivers

January, 28, 2015
Jan 28
Friedell By Nick Friedell

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Derrick Rose made history on Tuesday night.

In the midst of the Chicago Bulls' best win of the season, an emotional 113-111 overtime triumph over the Golden State Warriors, who were denied their 20th straight win at home, Rose pulled off a never-before-seen NBA feat. He became the first player in league history to score at least 30 points, turn the ball over at least 10 times (he had 11) and have one assist or fewer, according to Elias Sports Bureau research.

But as usual with Rose, and these Bulls, the numbers don't tell the entire tale.

[+] EnlargeRose
Bob Stanton/USA TODAY SportsDerrick Rose missed 20 shots against the Warriors but he did deliver when the Bulls needed him most.
For instance, Rose missed 20 of his 33 shots, but he drilled the game-winner with 8.4 seconds left in overtime with the type of icy confidence that he displayed during his MVP season of 2010-11. He played 43 minutes in a game, the most he has played in one contest in almost three seasons. Most importantly, when his team needed him to hit the biggest shot of the night, he had no hesitation taking it.

"A player like myself, I want them moments," Rose said. "I want that shot. My teammates gave me the ball to take the shot and it looks good on the resume. I'm not running away from them shots, I'm not turning them down. If anything, my teammates are going to give me the ball to take the shot, so that's a good feeling."

As has been the case all season with the Bulls, they find a way to win games they're not supposed to win, while finding ways to lose games to lesser opponents that they have no business losing. The Bulls won on a night in which they played without two starters (Jimmy Butler and Mike Dunleavy) and against a team that has been virtually unbeatable at home.

But Tuesday offered another reminder that the Bulls will go only as far as Rose and his rebuilt knees can take them. As important as Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol and Butler are, Rose remains the largest potential difference-maker because of his ability to take over games late and deliver in the most pressure-packed situations. He has the type of superstar ability that the rest of his teammates feed off each night. When the game is on the line, they try to find the former MVP on the floor, no matter how poorly he has played to that point.

"I think we feel comfortable with Derrick taking responsibility in those moments because he definitely doesn't hide and he's very aggressive," Gasol said. "And tonight I think he was very aggressive all night long. I think it says a lot about his confidence level, how confident he is, that even if he had a tough shooting night and a tough night offensively, as far as taking care of the ball, he still feels comfortable shooting that last shot and knocking it down.

"I think that's important, that's a big factor, and it definitely gives us confidence going forward."

The differences in Rose's game underscore the differences for the Bulls as a whole. So often during Tom Thibodeau's five-year tenure as head coach, the Bulls' effort was never in doubt. Win or lose, the Bulls were almost always going to play tough, physical basketball and grind against teams until the very end. Before Rose's ACL tear in April 2012, fans knew what to expect from Rose each game. He was quicker and more aggressive than almost everyone on the floor and would find ways to take over the game when it mattered most.

Three seasons later, things have changed for the Bulls and Rose. The Bulls' inconsistent effort is a point of frustration for Thibodeau. Too often this season it looks as though players are just coasting through games and not executing properly on a team that is playing with the weight of championship expectations on its shoulders. Meanwhile, Rose remains more of a wild card than a sure thing on most nights. Some nights he looks engaged on both ends and takes over, as he did on Tuesday. Other nights he looks passive and relies too much on an inconsistent 3-point shot (31.3 percent).

The difference now is that the Bulls don't rely on Rose as much as they did in seasons past. They are deeper and more talented on the offensive end than they've ever been in the Thibodeau era. For as deep as they are, the Bulls still need Rose to be the player he used to be some nights. They need the old Rose to strike fear in their opponents every now and then to remind other teams, and themselves, just how dangerous they can be when he gets rolling.

"He didn't allow missed shots … to take away from the belief that he could still make and take a big shot," Thibodeau said. "That's all a sign of his greatness and him working his way back to being the player we all know he can be."

If the Bulls want to win a championship this year, they are going to need this Rose to show up even more during the final few months of the season. Good news for them is that he can still be that superstar when needed. Just ask the Warriors.

Bulls' defense can't contain red-hot Hawks

January, 17, 2015
Jan 17
Friedell By Nick Friedell
CHICAGO -- Derrick Rose didn't know what to say Saturday night after the latest deflating loss, 107-99 to the Atlanta Hawks. The issues which have hounded his team during the surprising stretch in which the Bulls have lost five of their last seven were apparent. They dug themselves an early hole, their intensity was lacking at times, and their defense, a calling card of the Tom Thibodeau era in Chicago, went missing when they needed it most down the stretch.

"If I had an answer," a frustrated Rose said, while discussing his team's defensive woes. "I swear I could tell you."

The Hawks are one of the very best teams in the NBA. They are well-coached, well-disciplined and they know how to execute throughout the game. They deserve all the praise that is coming their way after a 33-8 start to the season. But the more the Bulls have played over these past couple weeks, the easier it is to see that their issues, especially on the defensive end, are usually self-inflicted.

"Once again, communication, trusting, and just the effort," Rose said.

[+] EnlargeDeMarre Carroll, Derrick Rose
Dennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY SportsDeMarre Carroll made things hard on Derrick Rose here during the Hawks' 12th straight win.
That's the jarring part for this particular Bulls squad. Under Thibdoeau, they have almost always played harder than their opponent. They've almost always communicated well, and they have certainly trusted one another on the floor. That's why the issues that Rose and his teammates continue discussing have to be concerning for Thibodeau. They aren't issues that have popped many times before under his reign.

"Everybody's saying we know what we have to do, but we can't keep talking about it," Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler said. "At some point in time we got to actually go out there and get it done."

Make no mistake, the Bulls still believe they can and they will. As a portion of their fan base starts worrying about the future, it's important to remember a few things in the midst of the Bulls' slide.

First and foremost, Joakim Noah is hurt and hasn't looked like himself all season. Noah is the heart and soul of Thibodeau's defensive system. In order for them to get back on track Noah has to be healthy and active. He missed his second consecutive game on Saturday night because of a sprained right ankle and hasn't been moving around well on his left knee as he continues to make his way back from arthroscopic surgery. Any discussion about the Bulls improving defensively is based upon Noah coming back and rounding into form. If he doesn't, the conversation becomes moot because the Bulls won't be able to contend for a title without him playing at a high level.

Secondly, Mike Dunleavy's absence has been a bigger issue than many imagined. He is a solid defender, but his ability to space the floor on offense is sorely missed. The Bulls haven't been the same team on either end without the veteran shooter. They need him back as soon as possible in order to get out of this rut.

From a broader perspective, the Bulls need to get back to the fundamentals that Thibodeau has instilled in them for five years. They need to trust each other on the floor, a point that Rose underscored when noting that while his team's issues are fixable, the change must come from within.

"It's done with the team," Rose said. "Thibs can say whatever he wants to say, it's going to have to be done by us as a collective group. It can't be two or three guys on one possession. Or four guys on one possession and the fifth guy is like out doing whatever he wants to do; you got to be all five guys tied together, but I think we're going to figure it out."

The Bulls got a reminder of what they used to look like on Saturday night. The Hawks were hungrier, played together and executed better all night. They stepped on the Bulls early and never allowed them to crawl all the way back. They treated the Bulls the way the Bulls have treated so many other teams throughout the years. Thibodeau and his players know that they have plenty of time to turn things around, but with a brutal stretch of the schedule staring them in the face, they know they better start fixing their problems now.

"The way that they play, that's the way we should be playing," Butler said. "That's the way we can play and we're going to get to that."

Bulls finally close out a bad team late

January, 16, 2015
Jan 16
Friedell By Nick Friedell
BOSTON -- Joakim Noah stood toward the back of the visitor's locker room in the TD Garden late Friday night with an embarrassed smile on his face. Noah, the emotional leader of the Chicago Bulls who sat out Friday night's 119-103 win over the Boston Celtics because of a sprained right ankle, earned a rare NBA distinction during the game. With 4:33 left in the third quarter of a tight game, Noah picked up a technical foul for arguing with the officials. After the game ended, he was taking some good-natured ribbing for his indiscretion.

"It got us going," he joked from the trainer's table.

While Noah will surely argue about how much his contribution mattered on the way back to Chicago, the reality for the Bulls is that they finally closed out a game the way a championship-caliber team is supposed to against a bad opponent. After watching his team lose four of its last five, including two homes games to poor teams such as the Utah Jazz and the Orlando Magic, the entire locker room operated with a sense of relief hovering over it after everything ended.

"We got to play like that for the whole game," Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler said of his team's fourth-quarter performance. "We play like that for 48 minutes, getting stops, teams won't score 90 points and damn sure won't score 100. I think it's going to always end up starting on the defensive end for us."

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesDerrick Rose found his offensive game, scoring 20 of his 29 points in the second half.
After playing such porous defense on and off throughout the season, especially in the last two weeks, the Bulls appeared to be sleepwalking through much of this one before they woke up before the final 12 minutes began. The Celtics shot 60 percent from the field in the first half but managed only 17 points in the fourth quarter. Not only did the Bulls hit crucial shots down the stretch, as evidenced by their 31-point output in the final 12 minutes, they made stops when they needed them most.

"We can be very dangerous," Bulls point guard Derrick Rose said. "I think we all know that. It's just a matter of fact that it's on the defensive side. We can score all we want, but when we're allowing teams to get 100, 105 points every game it's going to be a tough game. Then if our shots aren't falling at the end, it could be a really tough game for us. So offensively we're not worried about that, defensively, that's our whole key right there."

As crucial as it is for the Bulls to play solid defense, it's just as important that their three primary scorers, Butler, Rose and Pau Gasol take over when needed late in games. That was the case Friday as the trio racked up a combined 71 points, 19 rebounds and 16 assists and seven steals (a career-high six from Butler). After struggling for the last few games to find a rhythm, Butler looked more aggressive and confident. Gasol was his usual steady self, and Rose made it a point to drive to the rim early and assert himself.

In a season full of ups and downs, Friday night's performance was one of the most complete of the season for Rose, who also knocked down five of his eight 3-point attempts and had 10 assists.

"It's good," Thibodeau said of having Rose, Butler and Gasol playing at a high level together. "It's nice to have those three back playing together. I think we've been a strong fourth-quarter team almost the entire year, minus this last lull over the past five games. We know they have the capability. I think what you're seeing is Derrick's getting stronger and stronger. I think he's gaining confidence. I think he's getting that competitive edge back. When you're out as long as he's been out you miss that part also. You're going against a great player, a great team, every night. So you can start to see [his momentum] is coming."

If the Bulls could get a healthy Noah back along with veteran shooter Mike Dunleavy, they'll be in even better shape down the stretch. But for now, they'll always have the laughs that came with Noah's "cashmere T" on Friday night.

It's not often a player earns a technical foul in a cashmere sweater, but after a much needed win, the Bulls can deal with it.

"That's Joakim," Rose said with a smile. "That's Jo, man. We're rolling with him. We understand him."

Rose, Wall excited about point-guard battle

January, 9, 2015
Jan 9
Friedell By Nick Friedell
WASHINGTON -- In advance of Friday night's showdown with the Washington Wizards, Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose believes the NBA is in the middle of a point guard renaissance.

"This is like the point guard era," Rose said after the Bulls' shootaround on Friday morning. "Every guard that you play against, no matter what team they're on, you're playing against great guards no matter what. No matter if they're in the East or the West, and the East is more younger guards, but they're still trying to make a name for themselves."

Rose admits that he gets up for games against other high-level point guards in the league.

"Oh yeah, for sure," he said. "I prepare myself all year for these type of games. If anything, who knows? This could be the game that puts me back in my rhythm."

I prepare myself all year for these type of games. If anything, who knows? This could be the game that puts me back in my rhythm.

-- Derrick Rose
Rose comes into the game in the middle of the worst shooting slump of his career -- 28-for-110 from the field in his past six games -- but remains confident that he will get his game back on track soon.

"It's part of the season, man," Rose said. "I can't get caught up with that. If anything, I think I prepare myself well for every game that I played in and that's all I can do. Prepare myself, shoot as many shots as possible before the game. The game that I do see them go down, who knows? Tonight could be that night."

Wall sounds equally excited about squaring off against Rose, especially after Rose dropped 25 points on the Wizards during a win in Washington on Dec. 23.

"It's fun," Wall said of facing Rose. "It's a lot of excitement. To be one of the most talented point guards, and everybody knows what type of player he was before he got injured, I think he's getting more and more comfortable with himself and just trying to find a rhythm. But he did [the rehab] the way he wanted to and he's still an exciting player to watch play. It's always a fun matchup to go against him."

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau doesn't want Rose to get caught up in a one-on-one matchup against Wall.

"I think Derrick has a good understanding of how good their team is," Thibodeau said. "The big thing is the winning part of it and not to get wrapped up in individual matchups. I think when you do that, you get sidetracked. So just get out there, make the team function well. Washington's a very good team. Their record says what they are. And we're going to have to be ready. They have a lot of weapons, they have great size, they have great quickness. John has certainly established himself, along with Bradley Beal, they're a terrific backcourt."

Like Rose, Wall acknowledged that he enjoys playing in this era of point guards.

"It's up in the air with anybody ... some people have their own top five. People's top fives and top 10s switch throughout the season, so it's fun and I'm glad to be a part of this era where you can say who's the best and challenge yourself to where you want to be in this category," he said.

Rose not worried about shooting 'slump'

January, 6, 2015
Jan 6
Padilla By Doug Padilla
CHICAGO – Despite missing nearly two full seasons with knee issues, Derrick Rose does not want to be babied, so he was direct Tuesday when taking about his recent lackluster shooting exhibitions.

Going 2-of-15 from the field Dec. 30 against the Brooklyn Nets over 28 minutes was the low point, although he has gone just 25-of-95 (26 percent) over the past five games, a stretch that started Dec. 29 at Indiana.

“It was a slump,” Rose said bluntly.

Yet it doesn’t seem to be a slump that will make Rose shy away from shot opportunities. And Rose did make his proclamation in the past tense, making it sound like his woes were behind him, even though his 6-of-17 (35.3 percent) game Monday night against the Houston Rockets wasn’t exactly a slump-ending performance.

“It’s just part of basketball,” Rose said. “Having that mentality where you've got to shoot your way out, I'm shooting the shots that they give me. I'm working on the shots every day and just trying to find ways in the game where I can affect the game, knowing that the fourth quarter is basically mine. The first three quarters, I'm trying to get everybody touches, read the game a little bit better.”

After a three-game run of at least 20 points ended shortly after Christmas, Rose seems ready to reach those heights again after his 19-point game Monday. He won’t be without confidence Wednesday against the Utah Jazz.

“Every game is going to be something different,” he said. “Some games I'll start off hot, some games I'll start off slow, but I can't really let that affect the way that I'm playing or my confidence. It's just, the shots aren't falling, airballing, all of it. It's a part of the game. I've shot worse before, so I can't let that bother me.”

Bulls having fun with their new 'versatility'

January, 5, 2015
Jan 5
Friedell By Nick Friedell
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bulls beat the Houston Rockets at their own game Monday night, and that should be a terrifying thought for the rest of the NBA.

They raced up and down the floor all night, going shot-for-shot with one of the best teams in the Western Conference, but they still managed to find ways to make key defensive stops when they needed them late.

"It shows the versatility of this ballclub," Bulls center Joakim Noah said. "There's a lot of talent. I think we got stops when we needed to, and there's a lot of guys playing at a high level right now. It's just fun to be a part of."

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastThe Bulls are vastly improved on the offensive end this season, even with Derrick Rose still trying to regain his form.
That the Bulls beat the Rockets isn't a surprise, given that Chicago has won nine of its past 10 and is in the midst of one of the best streaks of the Tom Thibodeau era. But after years of being a defensive-minded, offensively challenged team, the Bulls are showing they can win in different ways. They have enough offensive depth to beat teams from different angles.

Pau Gasol scored 18 of his 27 points in the first quarter and continues to provide the type of low-post threat the Bulls have been missing for years. Jimmy Butler continued his All-Star push in scoring 22 points and limiting the Rockets' James Harden, the NBA's leading scorer, in the second half.

The fact that the Bulls are doing all this while Derrick Rose continues to struggle with his shot makes the recent wins even more impressive.

"It just shows how resilient we are," Butler said of winning in different ways.

To put the offensive growth in perspective, the Bulls came into Monday's game averaging 105.9 points per 100 possessions, which is the most efficient they've been in the Thibs era, according to ESPN Stats and Info.

In 2012-13, the Bulls were 24th in the NBA in offensive efficiency. In 2013-14, they were 28th. The fact that they have jumped all the way to seventh shows how deep the roster has become with the play of Gasol, Butler and rookie Nikola Mirotic, who chipped in with 17 points Monday.

"It's big," Butler said of the Bulls' confidence in their offense. "Whenever we start locking teams down and then still being able to score, I think the game is going to be a lot easier. We don't have to worry about digging ourself a hole and getting out of it."

The Bulls are now averaging 103.1 points per game. That's almost 10 more a game than they've been averaging the past two years. They're also averaging 9.4 more points a game this season, compared to last year, which is the biggest leap in the league.

As happy as the Bulls are about the jump they've made, Noah doesn't want them to lose sight of the defensive culture, which has been created over the years by Thibodeau and the players.

"Don't say defensive mentality like that's a negative," Noah said. "It's important. You need to be able to play defense if you want to win big in this league. But you also need to be able to score, and this is definitely the best offensive team that I've been a part of in my NBA career. But that being said, just because we can score doesn't mean that defense isn't important or as important. It's just as important."

Defensive intensity is in this group's DNA. That's why the players realize they can be so much better once they start playing more consistent defense again. But Monday's game is another step in the progression of a special team. Over the years, they've had a handful of wins over Western Conference teams when they played this kind of pace and still won, but it didn't happen often.

"It feels great," Gasol said. "I like what we have. I like the way we're doing things. I like our potential. Our potential, I think, is incredible. But we just got to continue to work, not be content and, defensively, kind of demand more of ourselves ... I think we're doing great. We're showing great quality on the floor. We just got to keep it up. We got to keep working and staying locked in."

Injury updates: Rose starts vs. Rockets

January, 5, 2015
Jan 5
Friedell By Nick Friedell
CHICAGO -- Derrick Rose suffered a bruised right hip during Saturday's win over the Boston Celtics but went through Monday's shootaround and was in the starting lineup for Monday night's game against the Houston Rockets.

Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler is back with the team after missing Saturday's game while on bereavement leave and also started.

Meanwhile, Bulls small forward Mike Dunleavy will not play against the Rockets. He suffered a right ankle injury during a Jan. 1 win over the Denver Nuggets and did not play against the Celtics. The good news for the Bulls is that Dunleavy is no longer wearing a walking boot.

"It's getting better," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said.

Derrick Rose shoots 'til he gets it right

January, 1, 2015
Jan 1
Greenberg By Jon Greenberg
CHICAGO -- Derrick Rose started a new year the way he ended the last one: by missing a bunch of shots.

Apparently, his resolution was to keep on keeping on.

As Rose is always quick say, and then back up, he’ll keep shooting and shooting and, eventually, good things will happen.

After missing all seven of his shots in the first half and 12 of 14 through three quarters Thursday, Rose heated up in the fourth, scoring 13 of his 17 points to close out Denver 106-101.

Jimmy Butler had a game-high 26 points to go with eight assists and eight rebounds, while Pau Gasol had 17 points, nine rebounds and a career-high nine blocked shots.

But when it came to crunch time, it was all about the big-name star, Rose.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty ImagesAfter going cold most of the game from the floor, Derrick Rose heated up late and helped shoot the Bulls to a win.
Rose went 7-for-25 from the field in the game, but he hit 5 of 11 shots and two free throws in the fourth. He got to the rim, hit his floaters, made a 3-pointer and a key step-back jumper. Three of his fourth-quarter misses went for putback baskets for Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson.

“My mentality is not going to change,” Rose said. “I’m going to shoot the ball. I’m a scoring guard.”

With Jay Cutler on vacation, Rose is the most analyzed athlete still playing in Chicago, and there’s no close second.

At times, the level of scrutiny to the microparts of his games leans toward the absurd. Other times, it’s perfectly valid. All part of playing the starring role for a championship contender in a major market.

“Everybody questions everything here,” Noah said. “I’ve never questioned him, because I know what kind of competitor he is, and he’s a worker. Everybody has something to say.”

While Rose usually tries to act oblivious to chatter around him, he seemed a little perturbed that people had been questioning his game after just two bad outings in a row (7-for-35 shooting against Indiana and Brooklyn).

“I’m taking whatever they give me,” Rose said. “I’m not going to let anyone dictate the way that I play. If they’re giving me shots, I’m going to take them. Shots that I normally make, I’m going to keep taking them. I could care less what anyone says or talk about my game. They’re giving me shots, I should be able to make those shots.”

Rose’s reliance on 3-pointers has been criticized all season, and rightly so, given the limited results. Facing defenses that are giving him open 3s, he’s shooting 26.4 percent (32-for-121). He went 1-for-3 on 3s against Denver, mostly opting to move the ball when point guard Ty Lawson sagged back to invite a shot.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has been telling reporters that Rose needs to drive more and settle less for 3-pointers early in possessions. He liked what he saw on Thursday. It wasn’t just trips to the paint in the fourth, but also the alacrity to get the ball upcourt quicker to get the offense going.

“I want him to be aggressive,” Thibodeau said. “I want him attacking. That’s what got him going in the fourth.”

Rose looked for his midrange game before getting seams to the rim in the fourth. The shots just weren’t falling until then.

“Really, it’s my teammates giving me confidence,” he said. “Even when you’re missing shots like I am the past couple games, teammates are still giving me the ball, giving me confidence, telling me to shoot the ball, still giving me the ball in position to shoot the ball. I’m fortunate. I’m very fortunate.”

Rose missed his first two shots in the fourth -- he got clobbered by Timofey Mozgov on one -- before hitting a floater to give the Bulls an 87-86 lead. On the next trip down, he hit another floater. His next shot, a missed layup, was rebounded and scored by Gibson. That made it 91-86.

A few possessions later, he hit a 3 and then got a steal and made a beautiful no-look pass to Butler (game-high 26 points) for a dunk.

While Noah credited Thibodeau’s decision to let the team run simple pick-and-roll actions in the fourth, allowing Noah and Gibson to hit the offensive glass, Rose’s best play came in an isolation situation with 24 seconds left. He sized up Arron Afflalo in front of the Nuggets bench with a few dribbles, and then hit a perfect step-back jumper to give Chicago a 102-97 lead.

“We have a fourth-quarter set of plays we run, and that was part of it,” Thibodeau said. “He’s got to make the play. There were open seams for him to drive or pull up, and he has the responsibility when the second defender comes to make the right read and the right play.”

Rose stared hard at the Nuggets’ bench after the shot.

“It wasn’t the players,” Rose said. “Players don’t talk to me in the game. It was the coaches. I heard some of the coaches saying something. I was just caught up in the game.”

Were they telling Nuggets defenders to let him shoot?

“It wasn’t that,” Rose said. “They were telling them how to defend me. I just made my shot.”

Rose, apparently, hears everything, and he is listening.

Rose undeterred by 'terrible' shooting night

December, 30, 2014
Friedell By Nick Friedell
CHICAGO -- The first word out of Derrick Rose's mouth during a postgame media session summed up his shooting performance in a 96-82 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

"Terrible," Rose said after making just 2-of-15 shots for four points.

The issue for Rose is it was the second straight game he shot poorly from the field. Over the past two games, Rose is a combined 7-for-35 from the field and 1-for-12 from beyond the arc.

After sitting out two games last week because of an illness, it appeared Rose was finally starting to find a groove. He came into Monday's game against the Indiana Pacers shooting a combined 37-for-68 from the field and 5-for-17 from the three-point arc since returning Dec. 22 in a win over the Toronto Raptors.

[+] EnlargeRose
Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY SportsDerrick Rose struggled with his shot for a second straight game and went 2-for-15 from the field against the Nets.
But the past two games are a reminder Rose still isn't all the way back, offensively. Teams are daring Rose to shoot by going under screens, and up to this point, the former MVP hasn't proven he can hit shots consistently to warrant a change.

"They're going under at the free throw line, so I got to take them shots, man," Rose said. "No matter how many times I miss or whatever, those are shots that I normally have to take just to make them play honest. I'm just waiting for that game where I'm going to have a good game -- just waiting for it."

Tuesday's game marked the second worst shooting performance of Rose's career in a game in which he had at least 10 shot attempts, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The worst came April 12, 2012, in which Rose, who was benched late in favor of C.J. Watson, went 1-for-13 from the field.

Rose is adamant he must continue shooting those open looks he's getting, but Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has been outspoken all year about how he wants Rose to be aggressive.

"The game will tell you how it's going," Thibodeau said before the game regarding Rose's decision to shoot more three-pointers recently. "Often times, it's coming out of the post. It's coming from people going under on the pick-and-roll. The most important thing is: Is it the right play? Does he have the proper balance? And is he shooting the ball well?"

The problem for Thibodeau is Rose is usually making the correct basketball play -- he's getting lots of open looks -- but if Rose isn't shooting well, shouldn't he be driving more?

"I'm just trying to read the game," Rose said. "It's just that I'm not making any shots. If I was making shots, we wouldn't be having this conversation. I'm playing the way I normally play. We were on a seven-game winning streak, lost tonight, and I'm still going to continue to play the way I normally play. If they give me open shots, going under [screens] I have to shoot them shots. Just getting reps up. I think that's the last part of my game that I'm missing."

Over his past five games, Rose has taken 31 shots outside the paint and 27 shots inside it, according to ESPN Stats and Info. But in his past two games, the majority of Rose's shots haven't been that close to the rim.

Rose remains outwardly confident, but he brushed aside the notion that he is a different player than during his MVP season of 2010-2011.

"I can't control that," Rose said. "I can't control people's thoughts. People are going to think whatever they want to think, do whatever they want to do. As far as a basketball player, all I can do is try to go out there and win the game. We have a great team. Certain nights, it's going to be like that, where I have 30 or whatever. I can't play the way that people want me to play. They want me to score 40 or 50 points every night. If I can score 15 and still win the game, it's a good win for me."

Thibs: Ugly win offers a lesson for Bulls

December, 29, 2014
Friedell By Nick Friedell

INDIANAPOLIS -- Joakim Noah stood happily to the side of the Chicago Bulls' locker room late Monday night after a much-closer-than-it-had-to-be 92-90 win over the Indiana Pacers, looking like a guy who had just stolen something.

It makes sense given that the Bulls had just taken back a win they almost gave away. After breezing through part of the second half in which they racked up a 21-point lead, Noah and the Bulls allowed the Pacers to crawl all the way back into the game by going 0-for-17 from the field at the end of the third and into the fourth quarter.

The Pacers went on a 20-0 run as the Bulls managed to go just 2-for-21 from the field in the fourth quarter. Still, despite sleepwalking through large chunks of the final stanza, the Bulls found a way to win.

[+] EnlargeButler
Ron Hoskins/NBAE/Getty ImagesJimmy Butler scored a game-high 27 points and hit the go-ahead 3-pointer in the Bulls' 92-90 win over the Pacers.
"We won like some ducks tonight," Noah said with a smile. "But we won. It was ugly. We'll probably forget about this one. I'm just happy we won."

As angry as Tom Thibodeau had to be watching his team fold down the stretch, he seemed surprisingly pleased after the game given the circumstances. With the win, the Bulls have now won seven in a row and 10 of their past 11 games.

"The lesson to be learned is that you got to keep playing," Thibodeau said. "No lead is safe in this league. It's funny because you always hear, 'Oh, you're up 10. Get those guys out of there.' Not in this league."

The debate, in regards to Thibodeau's minutes decisions, has been raging for several years and isn't going to stop, but that's not the takeaway on this night for a Bulls team that continues to improve. The takeaway is that instead of finding a way to lose, the Bulls found a way to win.

Once again, Jimmy Butler stepped up in a big spot and hit a crucial 3-pointer with 1:07 left in regulation to give the Bulls a lead they would not relinquish. As usual, Butler tried to downplay his accomplishments, but his play, on a night when Derrick Rose was just 5-for-20 from the field, is another reason why the Bulls, if healthy, have their best chance to win since Michael Jordan retired.

"We definitely have a lot of weapons offensively that can deliver in crunch time," veteran big man Pau Gasol said. "That's one of the strengths and the beauty of our team."

Butler, who scored a game-high 27 points to go along with nine rebounds, said one of the reasons he remains so confident in his game is because teammates such as Rose, Noah and Gasol are always telling him to be aggressive.

"Derrick's always on me to shoot," Butler said. "Shoot 3s, be aggressive. If your point guard, and Pau and Jo, your big men, are telling you that, they're telling you for a reason."

With Butler playing the way he is, and the Bulls not shaking while the game withered away Monday night, there's a reason why Thibodeau seemed more upbeat than usual. Great teams find lots of different ways to win games -- and the veteran coach knows his team is learning how to be great.

"Each game you want to learn," Thibodeau said. "And so when you look at the game, you have to find different ways to win. Obviously, the first three quarters [there were] a lot of good things. Maybe not so many good things in the fourth. The important thing is to learn from it, to make the corrections, and you have to also be glad that we were able to win the game.

"Hopefully we could take that to learn that no lead is safe. You could never let your guard down. You have to play for 48 minutes. The fourth quarter is when you have to be at your best. We've been a great fourth-quarter team all year long and obviously we didn't play well in this fourth quarter."

But they played just well enough to win. And on the path to a championship, there are going to be nights like this.

Rose, Bulls draw it up perfectly in D.C.

December, 23, 2014
Friedell By Nick Friedell
WASHINGTON -- This is the way things are supposed to work for the Chicago Bulls.

This is the way Gar Forman, John Paxson and Tom Thibodeau drew it up over the summer. Tuesday's 99-91 win over the Washington Wizards unfolded exactly how the Bulls' triumvirate envisioned. A deep Bulls' roster would build a lead heading into the fourth quarter against a quality opponent, and then Derrick Rose would shut things down late in the game.

Those visions have become realities for the Bulls over the past week, as they've put together one of the most impressive stretches in the past three years. Four wins in a row, the past three of which came against Memphis, Toronto and Washington -- teams that have a combined record of 62-22.

"It's real," Bulls center Joakim Noah said of the recent stretch. "Chicago Bulls are getting healthy. It's very real. We know that we're still not where we want to be. And we know the sky's the limit for our team. Our confidence is just getting better, and we're going to keep working, and we feel like we can even get better defensively. But it's all coming, and it's going to be a special year."

The frightening part for the rest of the league is, if the Bulls can somehow stay healthy and continue playing together, they are going to be even better a few months from now than they are right now. That's part of the reason the confidence Noah exudes right now is off the charts. The other reason is, for the second straight game, Rose put the Bulls on his back in the fourth quarter.

After scoring 15 of his 29 points in the fourth Monday night against the Raptors, Rose scored 10 of his 25 in the fourth Tuesday night against the Wizards. He's not all the way back to where he was before he tore the ACL in his left knee in April 2012, but this recent stretch is as close as he has been.

"He's stringing the games together, and so that's important," Thibodeau said. "He had the two games when he was sick, and then he's picked up right where he left off. The good thing was him working through the back-to-backs. It's been a step-by-step process. This is really the first time he's played really well in a back-to-back. He's been playing and playing pretty good minutes in the back-to-backs, and he's felt good, but you could tell his confidence is growing. He's feeling a lot better, and that's great."

What's also great for Thibodeau is the depth he has to work with on a nightly basis. Noah called this Bulls squad the most talented offensive team he's been on since being in Chicago. That point is underscored by the fact that Jimmy Butler, who had a rare off-night on Tuesday and went just 4-for-13 from the field, still has developed to the point that he's opened up space on the floor for Rose.

"Even with me with a live dribble, I know it's dangerous," Rose said. "So to see the attention going somewhere else or going so many places now, it's kind of new for me. A lot of people want me to score 30 points in the first half, [but] I don't have to. I can pick and choose when I want to score or try to change the game. And that's all I'm trying to do with this team."

The former MVP says teams still aren't doubling him, in part because of all the other options the Bulls have on the floor. Between Butler's ability to get to the rim, Pau Gasol's ability to score down on the blocks, Aaron Brooks' ability to penetrate and create his own shot and Nikola Mirotic's long-range jumper, the Bulls are dramatically different than the team that lost to the Wizards in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals last season. Unlike in years past, Thibodeau's team has several weapons to go to on the floor when Rose isn't in rhythm, a credit to Forman and Paxson for creating a deeper roster in the offseason.

As usual with the Bulls, though, everything revolves around Rose. He's proving yet again that even after being out of the game for most of the past two years, he still has the rare ability to turn a game around -- or close one out -- by himself. He never doubted he would be able to do it again, despite all the fans and pundits who thought otherwise. He believes the Bulls are getting used to playing with one another again -- a fact proven in their recent play.

"Just having faith, man," Rose said of maintaining his confidence over the past two years. "I know how special I am as a player. I really feel like I was born to play this sport. I bring joy to people whenever I play. That's all I can say about it."

That's all he and the Bulls need to say right now. Their play is saying more than any other words could.

D-Rose's game giving confidence to Bulls

December, 23, 2014
Friedell By Nick Friedell
CHICAGO -- Derrick Rose doesn't fully grasp the impact he has on others. The 26-year-old still isn't comfortable with all the attention his game draws. But after scoring 15 of his team-high 29 points in the fourth quarter of the Chicago Bulls' impressive 129-120 comeback win over the Toronto Raptors on Monday night, the former MVP better get used to the accolades again.

Rose, who missed the past two contests because of an illness, has had some nice games over the first month and a half of the season, but none looked quite like this one.

Rose looked like his old self -- the player who took over games consistently -- before tearing the ACL in his left knee in April 2012.

"They were giving me my shot," Rose said of his late-game decisions. "I guess they'll learn. I guess the league will learn."

As much as Rose tried to downplay his night, the boost it gave to his teammates was undeniable. As Rose repeatedly took the ball down the floor and knocked down several jumpers and runners toward the rim, he quietly played it off as if nothing major were happening. But his teammates felt much differently.

Each time Rose sank another jumper or made another play at the rim, the smile on Joakim Noah's face seemed to grow wider. Rose wasn't just making baskets on Monday, he was offering a reminder on how good he and the Bulls can be when they're all healthy.

"It's great," Noah said of watching Rose. "It's good to have him back on the court. Derrick's been through a lot the last couple of years with injuries and just to see him out there competing, he looks like he's having fun playing basketball. It's great. I'm happy. It makes me happy."

Rose's play ignited the sellout crowd and fired up Noah and the rest of his teammates in the process. The Bulls always knew they could be great this season, but that feeling was contingent upon Rose coming back and being close to the same player he used to be. Now that he has shown that swagger and killer instinct late in games again, the confidence within the Bulls' locker room is higher than it has been in years.

"We know that we can always count on him and go to him," Jimmy Butler said. "And that's just the type of guy he is, he wants that pressure, and he produces. He produced. I think we're just going back to him and I think he's going to do the same thing every night."

If he does, and he stays healthy, the Bulls are going to be a scary team once the playoffs roll around. In the meantime, Rose knows that he must continue improving and sharpening his game for when it matters the most. Monday was just one more step in a long process for the humble star.

"I'm fortunate to have the teammates that I have," Rose said. "They really believe in me and they see how hard I work. It's hard being on a team like that, but I'm fortunate, I'm grateful, and I don't take it for granted."

Neither do his teammates. Especially when they see him playing like he did Monday night.

Thibs expects Rose, Gibson to play Monday

December, 22, 2014
Friedell By Nick Friedell
CHICAGO -- Derrick Rose (illness) and Taj Gibson (sprained right ankle), who both missed the team's past two games, went through all of Monday morning's shootaround and are expected to play Monday night against the Toronto Raptors. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is happy his starting lineup is on track to play together again, but he is also proud of the way the rest of the group has responded to all of the injuries that have piled up early in the season.

"You have to be ready for it," Thibodeau said. "It is unusual, but we have to deal with it. The important thing is just to get ready for the next game, whoever can play, just get out there and get the job done."

Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler believes he has played enough with Rose over the first part of the season that they'll know where the other will be on the floor. They didn't play much together in Butler's first three years in the league because of Rose's knee injuries and Butler's struggles to earn a place in Thibodeau's rotation during his first year and a half in Chicago. They have played in only 14 games together this season, as Rose has struggled with various injuries and Butler missed the first two games because of a thumb injury.

"I think we complement each other well in transition and getting out in the open floor," Butler said. "We'll get a lot of easy baskets together."

Butler comes into Monday's game having racked up 66 points, 15 rebounds, eight assists and six steals in a combined 88 minutes over his past two games.

Melo, Rose questionable for Knicks-Bulls

December, 18, 2014
Friedell By Nick Friedell
CHICAGO -- Carmelo Anthony (left knee soreness) and Derrick Rose (illness) are both questionable for Thursday night's game between the New York Knicks and the Chicago Bulls. Anthony, who said his knee started acting up again in Tuesday night's loss to the Dallas Mavericks, admitted he has people close to him trying to get him to shut things down for a few weeks.

"I have multiple people say kind of just shut it down," Anthony said before Thursday's shootaround. "Or just take time off. But at the end of the day, it's hard for me to just do that right now in the midst of what's happening with the team and this season. So just trying to be smart about that."

Anthony said he didn't do much during Wednesday's practice and wanted to warm up Thursday night before making a final decision.

"It gets frustrating," he said. "Not knowing what's going to happen kind of with your body. So for me it's just taking it as the days come."

Thursday's game marks the first time Anthony has been back at the United Center since spurning the Bulls in free agency over the summer. The All-Star small forward said it wasn't weird for him being back in the building he toured alongside Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau and several other members of the organization.

"Not at all, man," Anthony said. "I came here this summer and visited. I had great meetings, but as far as being weird, it wasn't no connection like that for it to be weird. Not at all."

Anthony also noted that he wasn't concerned about being booed by Bulls fans.

"That's not something I'm thinking about right now or worried about," he said. "I got to worry about how I feel. So if I'm thinking about whether somebody's going to cheer for me or boo me, I can't do that right now. I can't worry about that."

Thibodeau isn't concerned about the reunion or what might have been had Anthony signed with the Bulls in the summer.

"I have great respect for what he's done," Thibodeau said. "He's a great talent, but he's a great person, too. I got to know him a little bit through USA [Basketball], coach [Jim] Boeheim. And the things that Coach [Mike] Krzyzewski and Coach Boeheim said about him told me that he would be a great fit for any team. When you look at his career, it speaks for itself. The numbers are incredible. [He] probably doesn't get the credit for being the passer that he is, playmaker. But that's what the people with USA Basketball said that's the role he played for that team. So [I have] great respect for him. Every player has to do what they feel is best for himself and his family, and I think that's what he did. I think he was totally honest with everybody."

If Anthony doesn't play, he will join Knicks big man Amar'e Stoudemire on the bench. The veteran power forward said he was sitting out Thursday's game to rest.

"A lot of games have been crunched into the early part of the season," Stoudemire said. "I've been called on to play a lot more than I was expected to, so it's a smart decision to rest and get ready for another brutal month."

Knicks swingman J.R. Smith did not travel with the team to Chicago as he continues getting treatment for a plantar fascia injury.

As for Rose, Thibodeau said he was not feeling well and did not go through shootaround. Rose has already missed eight games this season because of injury. Bulls forward Taj Gibson also did not participate in shootaround. He is questionable because of a right ankle injury. Bulls center Joakim Noah did go through shootaround and is expected to play after missing the last four games because of lingering ankle and knee problems.

Numbers point to more aggressive Rose

December, 15, 2014
Friedell By Nick Friedell

ATLANTA -- Derrick Rose missed 15 of the 21 shots he took in Monday night's 93-86 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. He turned the ball over six times. He was 0-for-7 from the 3-point line and made several poor decisions with the ball in his 31 minutes, 30 seconds of play.

But as a tired Bulls squad got dressed and made its way on to the bus awaiting outside Phillips Arena, Rose and Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau believe Monday's game was a positive development.

That's because Monday marked Rose's 11th consecutive game on the floor. It also marked just the second time all season he has started and finished back-to-back games. After watching Rose struggle to stay healthy throughout the first month of the season, Thibodeau seems relieved Rose is able to continue playing.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty ImagesDerrick Rose struggled with his shot on Monday, but his play has picked up since being pulled from a game on Nov. 25.
"There's no negative," Thibodeau said. "There's no negative. The only way he's going to come back is by playing and working. That's it. Even if he were 100 percent, not every game is going to be perfect. And when it's not perfect, you got to try and do something else to help us win: play defense, move the ball, break the defense down.

"There's a lot of things to the game that he can do to help us. Overall, I think he's doing well. It's not going to be perfect."

While Monday's game illustrated one of those times when things weren't perfect for Rose, he came into the game playing some of his best basketball since before he tore the ACL in his left knee in April 2012. Since being pulled from a Nov. 25 loss against the Denver Nuggets, Rose came into Monday averaging almost three more points a game (18.1 compared to 15.7 before the move, according to ESPN Stats & Information). Over the three contests entering Monday's game, he was averaging 22.7 points per game and shooting 53 percent from the field.

Most importantly to Thibodeau and the Bulls, Rose came into this game playing with so much more confidence going to the rim. Through his first seven games, he averaged 4.6 shots in the paint. Since the Denver game, he came in averaging 7.4 shots in the paint, and he took eight against the Hawks on Monday.

On Monday, he struggled with his jumper and didn't go to the rim as much. The Hawks packed the paint, daring Rose to shoot from the outside. He didn't seem bothered by the looks, believing that they were the right play.

"Shots that I normally hit, tonight they were flat," said Rose, who had 14 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds. "Just didn't have no lift to them. I guarantee you, next game, that won't happen."

But that's one of the other small differences. The pre-injury Rose would have seen that his shot wasn't working and driven it to the rim. He would have either gotten fouled at the basket or created more space for his teammates on the drive. Twenty-four games into this season, there is still some hesitancy.

"I want him attacking," Thibodeau said. "When he attacks, he's special. When he tries to pace himself, that's not going to work. He's got to be aggressive. As I said, it's not perfect. But over the course of the game, he's going to make a lot more good plays than he is bad, and that's all good for us. He can't be afraid to take a chance, he's got great instincts, he's got great ability. I want him to go. It didn't work out this time, but it will work out next time."

Thibodeau and Rose are taking the right course of action: continue pumping the positivity and hope that everything clicks again consistently for the former MVP. Whether it's fair or not, Rose was so good before the first injury and raised the expectations so high on his game that it's still tough for all involved to get used to seeing him find the way back into a rhythm.

Back in the pre-injury days, the Bulls knew what they were getting from Rose every game. There were nights like Monday night when he wouldn't shoot well or turned the ball over a lot, but everyone knew that when the game was on the line, Rose would be the one making the right plays. No one knows whether Rose will become that player again.

"It's all a read," Rose said of his aggressiveness. "If someone's going, I'm not going to try and affect the game with just shooting up crazy shots, or shooting up a shot that I have no business shooting up just because I haven't shot a shot. I'm going to feel the game, see how things are going to go and try to involve myself in the game at some point."

That is a distinct change from seasons past, and it remains to be seen whether that will work over the long haul. The Bulls have more offensive talent than they did in Rose's first few seasons. They aren't leaning on him as much as they used to, but to get to where they want to go they're going to have to turn back the clock.

"I think they can attack you in a lot of different ways," Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said of the Bulls. "They have more options and really talented offensive guys. I do think he's striking that balance. There probably have been times over the last three or four years where so much was expected from him. As a group, they have more ways to attack you offensively and maybe the burden isn't on him. That's a great thing for any player. I think he's finding that rhythm and balance of both. It's not good for the rest of us."



Jimmy Butler
20.1 3.3 1.8 39.5
ReboundsP. Gasol 11.9
AssistsD. Rose 4.9
StealsJ. Butler 1.8
BlocksP. Gasol 2.2