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LOS ANGELES -- The last time the Bulls played the Clippers on Dec. 18 they lost. That's not even the worst part in Derrick Rose's mind. What compounds the problem for Rose is that he missed the potential game-tying free throw right before the buzzer. It's a shot that he clearly hasn't forgotten about.
"I think I'm supposed to hit every shot like that towards the end of the game, especially a free throw," Rose said before Wednesday's shootaround. "It gives me something to think about. Just knowing how that feels after the game, being mad, I think it helps you grow as a player. Knowing that you can't feel any worse than that, walking off the court, and you see everybody putting their jackets on. and just leaving because of you. And it hurts, man. If anything, it makes me stronger."
Rose and the rest of his teammates feel like they owe the Clippers one, especially given that they seem to have figured out how to play without Joakim Noah. The first game Noah missed was the loss against the Clippers.
"We got to get this one tonight," Rose said. "I think we let that one slip back at home, so it gives a chance to get a little revenge back at their place."
Rose has kind words for VDN: Count Rose among the people who are a least a little surprised that former Bulls and current Clipper head coach Vinny Del Negro has had early success, (at least over the last month) in Los Angeles.
"A little bit," Rose said. "But I take my hat off to him where they're playing decent basketball right now. They beat some of the best teams in the NBA, if not all the best teams and they're dangerous, especially at home."
Rose believes that Del Negro has grown as a little bit as a coach since coming to LA.
"It tells a lot," Rose said of Del Negro's progression. "I'm happy for him. It's got something to do with the coaching, especially with the way they're playing right now. Putting the right people, putting the right guys out there together. I'm happy for him and everybody that's over there."
Del Negro is just glad to see some of his former players doing well. Like everyone else, he praised Rose for playing at an MVP level. He isn't surprised by the fact that Bulls are having success, especially given all the injuries they've dealt with.
"They've played most of the season really not whole," Del Negro said. "Carlos [Boozer], early, was hurt, and now Joakim is out. Derrick has kind of put the team, it seems like, on his shoulders. They've got good production [from other players]. Kurt Thomas has given him minutes and different guys are stepping up so that doesn't surprise me [that they've had success]. Derrick and Joakim and Luol and Taj are great kids, great character guys, workers. And they're kind of the core of the team and then they went out and added some pieces to make them stronger."
Rose feels good: Rose said he ate his first whole meal on Tuesday night at his agent, Arn Tellem's house.
"My stomach really isn't hurting right now," he said.
Thibs downplays coach of the month award: Tom Thibodeau was named Eastern Conference coach of the month for the month of January on Tuesday, but, as usual, he downplayed the accomplishment.
"I think it's more a tribute to our team," he said. "I think the fact that we had a good month, I think when you do that, it helps get recognized. I think it's helped Derrick get recognized as an All Star and hopefully it will help Luol and Carlos as well."
Speaking of accomplishments, Taj Gibson was named to the Rookie/Sophomore Game during All-Star Weekend on Tuesday as well. He played in the game last year in Dallas and is looking forward to spending All-Star weekend in LA.
"It was a great experience," he said. "Just to be chosen with those guys from the coaches around the league, it means a lot. So I'm happy to be going back."
The last word: "Very happy. People have been sending me pictures. My girlfriend, my mom have been sending me pictures of the snow there and it's terrible there. So I'm happy I'm here, for sure." -- Rose, on how happy he was to get out of Chicago just before the big storm hit.