Rose, Noah look better than ever

October, 12, 2010
10/12/10
11:34
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah are better than any two players on the Toronto Raptors.

Not that we didn't already know that, but Tuesday's preseason contest reinforced the point as the pair combined for 39 points, 19 rebounds and 15 assists in a 109-90 cakewalk. That each player nearly rattled off a triple-double shouldn't come as that much of a surprise (even for Noah) when you consider that the Raptors look flat-out awful.

Aside from discovering how truly bad Toronto is going to be this season, here are a few more things we learned on Tuesday night:

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty ImagesDerrick Rose scored 23 points in the Bulls' win over the Raptors on Tuesday.
Rose is really, really good: We already knew this one as well, but it's worth reiterating given the way the 22-year-old point guard played on Tuesday. He was dominant; penetrating and scoring almost at will. He drove to the basket and hit several jump shots that he probably wouldn't have made last season. He is really is getting better with every game, and it's noticeable to everybody, including his teammates.

"I think Derrick is somebody who really understands and really plays at a high level," Noah said. "It's going to get ugly, that's all I can say. His speed burst, nobody has a speed burst like him. The sky is really the limit for him. That's one of the reasons I'm so excited to be part of this team, because of him. I think the way he finishes at the rim for a point guard, there's really nobody who can, I don't remember a point guard finishing at the rim like that. Anybody, ever."

For his part, Rose thinks his improvements have come because of the extended amounts of time he's been on the floor.

"I'm more comfortable," he said. "I hope that you see that while I'm on the court. I guess it comes from years in the league, in pick and roll. I'm not thinking of anything if a guy comes toward me, wherever he's coming from, that's where the ball's going."

JOMER is working: The combination of having Noah and rookie forward Omer Asik on the floor continues to pay dividends. Asik had another solid game scoring nine points, grabbing eight rebounds and blocking three shots and, like Rose, he is improving every time he hits the court.

"He's playing great right now," Rose said. “He's doing exactly what we want him to do, go out there and play hard. If he can’t get the rebound or whatever, he's tipping it, so that the guards can get it and as long as he's playing hard, he's going to help this team.”

Watson is going to give the Bulls a spark: After last Tuesday night's game in Milwaukee, some Bulls fans were ready to write off C.J. Watson already. He played poorly, turned the ball over and couldn't find his shot. After sitting out the past few days with a sore quad, he came back with a vengeance on Tuesday. The backup point guard scored 12 points (5-of-7 from the field) and played much calmer in 19 minutes of action.

"C.J's a good player," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He's done a lot of good things in this league. He's practicing well, I think he's comfortable. We know he can score the ball ... he can put the ball in the basket and he's a pretty good defender."

Thibs isn't concerned about Noah's minutes:After struggling through most of last season because of plantar fasciitis, it was a little odd to see Noah logging 40 minutes in a preseason game. Rest assured Bulls fans, neither Noah or Thibodeau had a problem with the heavy minutes, although Thibodeau admitted he might have pushed things a little far for an exhibition.

"He probably played a few more minutes than I would have liked," the Bulls coach said.

Thibodeau wanted to get a look at a couple different matchups on the floor, including having Noah play at the four with Asik, hence the extension in minutes.

"I'm feeling pretty good," Noah said. "I don’t feel like I'm where I need to be and I understand that I'm going to be playing a lot, especially early. Actually, I'll be playing a lot for a long time. I'm just happy I can be out there and I feel pretty good."

Too early to pass judgement on Brewer: Ronnie Brewer only played 10 minutes in his preseason debut and scored just four points. He's still got time to earn his starting two-guard spot, but as he noted before the game, he'll try to fit into any role Thibodeau places him in, even if that means he comes off the bench.

"I would like to, but if it doesn't happen it's not the end of the world," he said before the game. "As long as you're competing at a high level and helping this team out any way, you should be satisfied. I think a lot of people's goals and mentality going into this season [is] you're going to put your ego back as long as you can go out there and try to help win games. And if that means me starting or me coming off the bench, I just want to go out there and help the team any way I possibly can."

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jimmy Butler
PTS AST STL MIN
22.0 3.3 1.5 40.0
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 11.4
AssistsD. Rose 4.8
StealsJ. Butler 1.5
BlocksP. Gasol 2.1