- Jon Greenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Rose is the reigning MVP and Jennings is trying to forget a down season.
“Right now I’m just getting up to play against whoever,” Jennings said. “The fact that I had a terrible season last year, I just have a lot to prove.”
The two scoring point guards, and former AAU rivals, put on a pretty good offensive show in the first half Friday, before the Bulls locked down Jennings with their help defense, and Rose asserted his dominance.
Jennings scored 16 of his 25 points in the first quarter as the Bulls used a strong third quarter to beat Milwaukee 107-100 at the United Center. He has scored 20-plus points in six straight games, the second-longest current streak in the NBA.
Rose, coming off a disappointing loss to Indiana, scored 10 in the first, but scored 18 of his season-high 34 points in the second half. He had 14 in the third as the Bulls pulled away. Rose hit 14 of 24 shots, though he missed four free throws. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau thought his team lacked aggressiveness in their 95-90 loss to Indiana on Wednesday. That wasn't a problem again.
“My whole mindset was attacking,” Rose said. “I talked to Thibs before the game, in the shoot-around actually, he was showing me film of me just attacking. That’s what I wanted to do when I got out there.”
Joakim Noah thinks differently. He knows how Rose is really wired.
"I think Brandon Jennings hit a couple shots and then Pooh got mad,” Noah said. "When he gets in the rhythm it's scary. I've never seen somebody score so easily.”
Carlos Boozer agreed with Noah.
"Honestly, we just kind of fed off Pooh, off Derrick, because he was so aggressive to start the game,” Boozer said. “Him and Jennings were going at it a little bit in that first half. And to be quite frank, D-Rose just took the challenge on. He just kept pushing, kept bringing it, and we just fed off that. We played off of him."
That’s how it works in Chicago. Rose sets the tone.
After the game, Jennings questioned the way the Bucks played defense. Maybe he just didn’t want to take the blame for Rose blowing by him and shooting jumpers in his face.
“One thing I was trying to say is we should just double him, get him to pass the ball and make someone else make the play,” Jennings said. “I felt like we could’ve played pick and roll the way they played against me in the second half.”
So why didn’t the Bucks do that, considering Jennings said Rose is “their entire offense?” Well, for one, if it were that easy, Rose wouldn’t be the reigning MVP. And that’s just not how they do things under Scott Skiles.
For his part, Rose didn’t think the Bulls really treated Jennings differently at all.
“Not really, he just stopped shooting, I guess,” Rose said. “We didn’t really change anything. We just made hard on him, pushing him harder on the pick and roll toward the sideline and just contesting his shots.”