Sunday, March 27, 2011
With Rose on their side, Bulls believe
By Nick Friedell
MILWAUKEE -- There's a reason why the Chicago Bulls legitimately believe they can win an NBA championship this season.
They have Derrick Rose ... and every other team in the league does not.
In a season full of MVP-caliber performances, Rose unleashed one of his best yet on Saturday night, scoring 30 points and dishing out a career-high 17 assists as the Bulls won their fourth game in a row, 95-87, over the Milwaukee Bucks.
As usual, it was Rose who took over the game late, completely dominating the Bucks down the stretch. Rose scored 10 points in the fourth quarter alone, and repeatedly got open looks for all his teammates. The same teammates who literally stared in awe at times on the bench as the 22-year-old made one "SportsCenter" Top-10 play after another.
Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah were fired up during the Bulls' fourth-quarter rally against the Bucks on Saturday.
"The worst thing you can do is give me confidence," Rose said after the victory. "No matter what I'm doing. Playing whatever, doing whatever. If I get any type of confidence it's going to be hard to stop me."
That's the way the Bulls are feeling right about now. With Rose leading the way, they feel like they are going to win every single night. Saturday's game is just the latest example. The Bulls were getting beat throughout the night until Rose took over.
"He's done it all year," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He's got to continue to do it. The thing that I really respect about him is that he's never satisfied. So he'll keep driving, and the important thing for him is the win. He's not concerned with what he's doing individually. He's more concerned with how our team is doing. And his defense continues to improve.
“This was a tough game. Milwaukee's playing extremely well, they're playing very, very hard. They're a tough team defensively. It's hard to get a good shot against them and he did whatever he had to do put us in position to win."
But like Thibodeau said, Rose is never satisfied. After being showered by MVP chants throughout the night and receiving congratulations from all his teammates, Rose refused to be impressed with what he had accomplished.
"I didn't do s--- yet," Rose said, using the kind of strong language the media isn't used to hearing from the mild-mannered point guard. "We've got to get to the second round. That's what we're trying to do now. We're a team where we get to the first [round] and we lose. First round, we lose. We're trying to get past that now."
If Rose continues to play like he has been lately, there's little doubt that will happen. Inevitably, when the Bulls need him the most, that's when he steps up and delivers.
"With the pressure of the game, he's great in those situations," Thibodeau said. "He's got a lot of poise and a lot of confidence. I think that comes from his preparation. He's ready to handle those things and he always makes the right play, whether it's him finishing at the rim, pulling up, or hitting an open teammate. And he's not afraid, he has great courage."
It's that lack of fear that his teammates love the most.
"It's really exciting," Joakim Noah said. "He's playing his best basketball since he's been here. He's playing with a lot of swag and we feed off that. When you have your star player playing at that level it just makes you want to go to bed early, eat right, and do all the right things to get right for this final stretch."
If Saturday night is any indication, Noah and the rest of his teammates better get a lot of rest ... there's a good chance they're going to be playing for a while.