Rose shines in the clutch

April, 23, 2010
4/23/10
12:13
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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[+] EnlargeJoakim Noah
Mike DiNovo/US PresswireWith a win Thursday, Joakim Noah & Co. get a return engagement in Cleveland for Game 5.
Late in the fourth quarter of Thursday night's game, Derrick Rose took another step in his progression toward becoming a superstar. He had been cruising past Cleveland Cavaliers guard Mo Williams and several other Cleveland defenders for most of the night and when a bigger, stronger defender came calling.

LeBron James.

The Cavs superstar wanted to check the Chicago Bulls' All-Star, and Rose seemed to rise to the occasion a couple times. He finished with a team-high 31 points on the night, but it was those final minutes with James that really seemed to catch everyone's attention.

"It just showed he was kicking their [butt]," Bulls center Brad Miller said.

It also showed just how dangerous Rose can be when he is locked in, as he was during most of the game.

"It surprised me a little bit," Rose said of James' decision to guard him. "But it was fun out there."

Noah is headed back to Cleveland: No matter what the Bulls do on Sunday afternoon, they are now definitely headed back to Cleveland for Game 5 on Tuesday night. It's a trip that Joakim Noah is looking forward to, but he knows he may have to pick his words a little more carefully this time around.

"I think sometimes I say things, but it gets a little blown out of proportion," Noah said. "But I don't want people to think I'm some kind of circus freak. I'm going out there, and I'm playing my heart and my soul out, giving everything I got on the court and just because I say things like, 'Cleveland Sucks' doesn't mean that I'm not going out on the court and giving everything I got. That's why I didn't to you guys [Wednesday], too."

Taj gets a T: Bulls rookie forward Taj Gibson got so wound up in the third quarter that he picked up a technical foul for arguing with an official. After the game, the mild-mannered Gibson couldn't believe it. "Oh my God. I got a tech," he said. "I got a tech in the playoffs, man. It was so intense. Guys were just talking. Guys were fighting and it was just real aggressive out there. It showed. The refs weren't giving me any calls."

The last word: Kirk Hinrich on what the win means for his team: "We needed a win not to fall down 3-0. That's death. Our back are kind of up against the wall. We responded. And we were able to carry it out through the rest of the game.

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
Derrick Rose
PTS AST STL MIN
15.9 4.3 0.5 31.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Noah 11.3
AssistsJ. Noah 5.4
StealsJ. Butler 1.9
BlocksJ. Noah 1.5