Chicago Bulls: Blake Griffin
LOS ANGELES -- Do not bet against Derrick Rose when he says he's going to do something.
The NBA knew that before Wednesday night's game, but the 22-year old superstar drove the point home one more time during the Chicago Bulls' 106-88 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. He felt personally responsible for his team's Dec. 18 loss to Blake Griffin & Co. when he missed a free throw in the final second that would have sent the game to overtime. He wasn't about to make the same mistake twice. He imposed his will on the game from the start and seemed determined to deliver another win.
That's exactly what Rose did. He played with the type of edge that only the elite players in the league have. He did whatever he wanted on offense. If the Bulls needed a basket, he scored it. When you match that type of effort with the amount of defensive force the rest of his teammates displayed on Griffin and the Clippers in the second half -- Griffin scored just seven, while the Clippers had just 39 combined -- you start to understand why Carlos Boozer was left speechless for a moment when I asked him who can beat the Bulls when Rose is playing this well.
"Our team is unbelievable," he said. "I don't know. He was unbelievable tonight, man. Shot after shot. A great floor game, 11, 12 assists, only a couple turnovers. He's been unbelievable all season."
Rose has been so good for such a sustained amount of time that even Boozer admitted that he finds himself in shock by some of the moves Rose pulls off on the floor.
"Sometimes I'm out there and I'm in awe sometimes when I'm playing next to him," Boozer said. "He does that reverse layup a couple times a game. Hit some big shots for us all night long, and at the same time gets everybody involved. Unbelievable game."
Whether it's teammates, coaches or opponents, they all say the same kind of thing when discussing Rose's exploits.
"He's an unbelievable player," Griffin said. "He's extremely talented. He does a great job distributing the ball, but he can also score so it's tough to defend him. He had a good game."
What else is there to say? Tom Thibodeau has tried to put it all into perspective all year, but even he is starting to run out of superlatives.
"I think that's who he is," Thibodeau said. "I think he's never satisfied. He wants the team to do well. He's always driving himself to get better. I thought he had great command in this game. I thought the way he started off the game set the tone for us. Very aggressive. Pick and roll, running the team. I thought [he was] aggressive defensively. I thought he did a lot of good things and when he's going like that, he lifts the whole team."
The games continue to change, but the story doesn't as far as Rose is concerned. He's that good. And when he puts his mind toward accomplishing something the way he did against the Clippers on Wednesday night, you better watch out -- because he's going to get the job done.
How it happened: Derrick Rose felt like his team owed the Clippers one after Blake Griffin and company rolled through the United Center on Dec. 18 and stole a win. He decided to make sure the same thing didn't happen twice. The 22-year-old point guard scored 32 points, dished out 11 assists and pulled down three rebounds as the Bulls picked up their sixth win in a row. Luol Deng had another solid game, adding 26 points, five assists and six rebounds. Carlos Boozer added 16 points and 10 rebounds of his own.
What it means: When Rose puts his mind to something it's hard to bet against him. He has the ability to completely take over games and impose his will on opponents. That's what he did again at times on Wednesday night. Between Rose's play, and the Bulls' renewed lock down defense on Griffin in the second half, they simply ran away with this one at the end. Rose and his teammates are growing more confidence as the games roll by.
Stat of the night: Griffin scored just seven points in the second half, after scoring 25 in the first.
What's next: The Bulls have two days off before facing off against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night. They'll enjoy the night in Los Angeles and soak in the fact that they are becoming the team that Tom Thibodeau wants them to be.