Chicago Bulls: Los Angeles Clippers
"I'm the coach," Thibodeau said as he kept going right past the notoriously stringent Staples Center security team. "I don't have a credential."
A few hours later, after his team had been embarrassed by the Clippers in the form of a 39-point defeat, Thibodeau tried to remain positive. He tried to remind his team that everything would be OK without Rose again -- only the players' faces and actions told a different story. The Bulls looked and played like an emotionally beaten-down group on Sunday, and even Thibodeau, despite all his bravado, knows it.
"I think we're all capable of doing better," he said. "This isn't on one player or two players. This is on me. It starts with me, and that's where the blame should be."
Thibodeau's sentiment is heartfelt, but reality tells a different story. The Bulls simply can't overcome the loss of Rose again. Sunday's game served as an example of what is to come over the next few weeks and months. There are only so many times a coach and a team can go to an emotional well. The Bulls played well last season because of the preparation they put in before the season without Rose. They knew he wasn't coming back for a long time, and they knew they had to rely on each other to figure out a solution.
This time, they didn't have that luxury. Rose's latest injury will be even more jarring to this season's team because they don't have the depth to sustain his loss. Last season's Bulls team was built to win without Rose; this season's squad was built to win around him. That's why it's so hard for his teammates to come to grips with the fact he is likely going to miss a long stretch of time.
"It's more [like] your little brother being hurt," Bulls forward Luol Deng said of Rose's absence. "I think that's [why] everyone's head's down. It's not so much that we don't believe in each other, and we're going to fight. It's just that's a good kid, and he worked so hard. And we've seen him work hard and be the first one to practice every day and [the] last one to leave and encouraging everybody. Just coming back and making everyone believe that we got a chance to do something special, and when he took a hit like that, it's hard. Even the people that don't know him had a hard time hearing that. And the people that know him just know how much work he put into it."
CHICAGO -- Let's take a quick look at how the Los Angeles Clippers earned a 94-89 win over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night at the United Center.
How it happened: Blake Griffin racked up 22 points and 10 rebounds, including several highlight-reel dunks, as the Clippers pulled off an impressive win. Chris Paul added 18 points, four rebounds and four assists as the Clippers improved to 15-6. Carlos Boozer played one of his best games of the season, scoring 24 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, but the Bulls didn't have enough firepower to match up with the Clippers' stars.
What it means: This was pretty much the outcome that everybody expected. When the Bulls don't get great performances from Luol Deng and Joakim Noah (the pair combined for just 18 points) the Bulls aren't going to win many games against elite teams. What will infuriate Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau most about this game is the Bulls gave up too many easy plays to the Clippers and also forgot how to box out at times. The Clippers, led by Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, had their way in the paint most of the night.
Hits: After getting tossed in Saturday's win over the New York Knicks, Taj Gibson started to look like his old self again Tuesday -- scoring 10 points and grabbing six rebounds in just 13 minutes.
Misses: Luol Deng was just 3-for-14 from the field. Deng and Marco Belinelli were a combined 9-for-36 from the field.
Stat of the night: The Bulls made more 3-pointers (10) than free throws (nine).
What's next: The Bulls are right back at it on Wednesday night when they face off against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Read the entire story.
Read the entire story.
"My biggest thing is winning," Rose said. "I could care less about the matchup."
Having been around the 23-year-old long enough, Joakim Noah doesn't buy it.
"I think he takes those games as a challenge," Noah said in a crowded locker room after the Bulls' impressive 114-101 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday. "I don't think it's another game for him. I think he circles those games in the calendar."
Like so many great players, Rose is always looking to find a motivational edge. He admitted as much before the game in saying that he still hasn't forgotten his previous home game against the Clippers last December in which he missed a game-tying free throw at the buzzer.
"I remember everything," Rose said. "When I play, I'm a quiet guy so I try to think of anything to get me going. I definitely remember that."
It seems Rose also remembers that there are a lot of people around the league who believe Paul is the better point guard -- although that contingent is surely shrinking.
How does he respond to that claim? With Friday night's performance, a 29-point, 16-assist, eight-rebound effort against one of the NBA's most-hyped teams.
"He did everything tonight," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "And Chris Paul, he's as tough of a matchup as you're going to get. It's like two heavyweights going at it. Punch after punch. And we were fortunate to pull it out in the end, but they're both fierce competitors. I thought Derrick got our team going offensively. We had some easy baskets. We had a good pace. And his rebounding was terrific tonight. Not only the assists and the points, but the rebounding was excellent."
While none of Rose's performances surprise his teammates at this point, it's clear this particular effort had more of an impact than most.
"I see him do that all the time," Bulls forward Luol Deng said. "He's a great player. Tonight was one of his better games, but he really controlled the game. He got the crowd into it. They were just watching him. He really controlled the game. It was his show tonight."
That's the part Rose enjoyed the most. Rose and Paul were playing so well early in the game that the pair appeared to lift each other to a different level. That's the way Rose likes to play.
"[It's] fun," Rose said. "It's a challenge. Especially when you're on an island with [Paul]. The crowd gets into it. In Chicago, that's what you live for. Isolation, whatever. I'm taking the challenge; it's fun."
In the process of conquering that challenge, Rose also led the Bulls to their most impressive win of the season.
They were dominant at times on offense (shooting 50 percent), and Rose pushed the pace whenever he could (a point of emphasis from Thibodeau in recent days).
"Me attacking first opens up everyone else on the court," Rose said. "The first game I was just basically out on the perimeter just passing the ball and settling for jump shots. The Golden State [game] was like that, too. But since then, I've been pushing the ball, trying to get to the line."
That's exactly what Thibodeau likes to see.
"He's gotten significantly better because of his experience," Thibodeau said. "He's seeing every [kind] of defense there is. And I think he understands where the holes in the defense are. Any time you put two on the ball or you do certain things, there's going to be openings and he's got to read those. And I think he's doing a great job with that."
When Rose plays the way he did Friday night, it will be hard for anyone to stop the Bulls during the regular season. When he has his mind made up on something, it's hard for anyone to even slow him down. Just ask Paul.
"When you see what Derrick did tonight, I think overall that was probably one of the best performances I've ever been a part of," Noah said. "Just the way he competed against Chris Paul tonight, it was pretty crazy."
How it happened: Derrick Rose dominated this game almost from start to finish. The reigning MVP said before the game that this particular contest against Chris Paul and the Clippers didn't mean more to him than any other game. His actions told a different story, though. He was in control all night offensively, finishing the game with 29 points, 16 assists and eight rebounds.
What it means: Rose was dominant, but the difference between these two teams is their depth. Each one of the Bulls' starters scored in double figures and had at least five rebounds. The Bench Mob also had another big night and provided solid minutes for Tom Thibodeau. Without question, this was the Bulls' most complete win of the year.
Stat of the night: Aside from Rose's stat line, the Bulls went to the free throw line 34 times. Another good sign for Thibodeau.
What's next: The Bulls have a day off Saturday before getting ready to face off against the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night in the team's home opener at the United Center.
"My biggest thing is winning," Rose said. "I could care less about the matchup. In this league now, every point guard is good. So tonight just try to get the win."
While Rose deflected questions about the matchup, others went out of their way to praise two of the best point guards in the league.
"Both are star players in the league," Los Angeles Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. "Both are not only great players, but workers, leaders. Great guys. I have a lot of respect for both of them. [I'm] just starting to work with Chris a little bit, but you see how Derrick's game evolved. And Chris is a tremendous leader and very competitive. That's why they're both two of the top players in the league. Forget about their positions. They'll go at it tonight which will be great, but every year is different and every team is different."
Paul switched coasts and conference after being dealt by the New Orleans Hornets to LA for package headlined by Eric Gordon. Paul's new surroundings don't mean Rose is going to change the way he plays him in any way.
"When you play against him, you've got to stop his passing," Rose said. "He's a guard where he doesn't need to score the ball to win a game. It's hard to stick that. I think him and [Rajon] Rondo are the best [at doing that] in the NBA. They don't have to shoot not a single shot and still can affect the game and give their teammates a lot of confidence. That's something that I would want to put in my game, but it's going to take a little time."
Paul and Rose faced off only once last season -- the Bulls were 2-0 against the Hornets but Paul missed one of the contests with an injury. In their one meeting, a 97-88 Bulls win, Rose went for 23 points and six assists while holding Paul to 15 points on 3-of-10 shooting.
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, who is obviously one of Rose's biggest fans, praised the way Paul plays the game as well.
"A guy like that, he's an offense unto himself," Thibodeau said of Paul. "He can make something out of nothing. In terms of executing a pick and roll he's tremendous. He keeps constant pressure on your defense. His decision making is excellent. And he has a great feel for the game too. If he feels that he needs to score more, he'll score more. If he feels like he needs to play-make more he'll do that. He's a fierce competitor. He sets the tone defensively. I have a lot of respect for him."
LOS ANGELES -- Derrick Rose's memory is almost as mighty as his midrange game.
He remembers intricate details of particular games the way Greg Maddux remembers throwing a 3-2 curve ball to a batter in a game from 15 years ago. When it comes to basketball, Rose remembers the highs, but mostly he remembers the lows. He thrives off the memories of feeling bad because he never wants to feel that way again.
Rose vividly recalls the game at home last season against the Los Angeles Clippers (on Dec. 18) in which Rose missed a free throw at the buzzer that would have sent the contest into overtime.
"I remember that," he said before Friday night's game against the Clippers. "It sticks with me. I remember. Then we came back here and won. But this year it's a whole different team. They have other players, traded players or whatever and it should be fun out there tonight.
"I remember everything," Rose said. "When I play, I'm a quiet guy so I try to think of anything to get me going. I definitely remember that."
Rose took it a step further.
"I hold grudges, man," he continued. "I'm quiet so I just got to look for anything to get me going."
Has anyone actually talked any trash to Rose yet?
"It hasn't happened yet," he said. "I don't talk on the court so they don't have anything to say to me. I guess that's a good thing."
Rose looks up to Billups: Chauncey Billups did not play Friday night because of a sore groin, but that didn't stop Rose from giving Billups a lot of praise. The pair grew close during Team USA's run through the World Championships last summer and it's clear that the reigning MVP has a soft spot for the veteran.
"Chauncey was the guy on the road where everybody looked up to him like their big brother, especially all the guards," Rose said. "He knows a lot about the game. Won a championship. Chauncey is a professional where he takes everything serious. Wants to win. And that's a guard I look up to."
Rose notices the MVP change: Rose admitted he is seeing even more aggression early on this season from opponents.
"They're playing more aggressive," he said. "If anything, they're loading the whole side. Wherever I have the ball, you have two people on you. In pick and roll, if it's not where I'm coming off and it's just me and a big they're showing to a trap sometimes so it's kind of different but I'm learning."
VDN faces old team: Clippers' head coach Vinny Del Negro said he didn't feel any differently about this game, against his former team, than he would in any other. He did mention that he wants to add an addendum to the "Lob City" moniker which has become so popular of late in describing the Clippers' new style.
"I hope it's win city," Del Negro said. "Not lob city. If lobs help us win games, then great."
Rose is just happy to see his former coach having the chance to succeed.
"I'm happy for him," Rose said. "There's very, very high expectations [in Los Angeles] but he should be fine. He's got the right players. It will be interesting to see what's going to happen."
Butler had also considered San Antonio, New Jersey and Chicago, but ultimately the opportunity to team with Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon in Los Angeles proved too enticing.
Read the entire story.
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.
He made the first free throw without any problem and then the crowd hushed as he put up the second one. As soon as he put the shot up, he knew it probably wasn't going in.
Rose's teammates know that over time, he'll make more clutch shots than he'll miss.
"He makes that shot nine out of 10 shots," Carlos Boozer said. "We'll put it in his hands again. I have confidence he'll come through for us. He's already won so many games for us. I don't worry about that at all."
Having seen Rose hit so many big shots, it was stunning to almost everyone in the building that he actually missed the most important one of the night. Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro was sure that Rose would send the game into an extra session.
"Absolutely," Del Negro said. "Derrick's a clutch player. He has ice in his veins. It goes to show you how difficult it is at times for anybody. At some time in your career, when you're a player of Derrick's caliber, you're going to miss some. But he'll keep taking them and he won't hesitate at all."
VDN returns: No one was quite sure how Vinny Del Negro would be received before Saturday night's game, given how his tumultuous two-year tenure with the Bulls ended last season, not even Del Negro himself. He received a mixture of boos and cheers and seemed to take it all in stride. There was no question though, that winning in the United Center meant a little more to him.
"Probably just because of the situation of me coaching here the last couple years," he said after the game. "But like I said before, it's about the players. It's about them performing. I'm happy for the guys, they've been working hard in practice."
Gibson is woozy: Taj Gibson suffered a concussion during the third quarter Saturday night and it may sideline him for a few days. He was hazy after the game, admitting that he couldn't remember much about the incident which sent him out of the game.
All I remember is being in the training room and I'm sitting out,” Gibson said. “I don't remember ... everything's coming and going in my mind right now."
The last word: Del Negro, on possibly coaching two of the past three Rookie of the Year award winners in Rose and Blake Griffin.
"You're fortunate,” Del Negro said. “Players win games. I've said that all along. But the thing with Derrick and Blake that is similar is: one, they're great guys, and two, they work. And as a coach, when you have those two components and when you have those guys as players it makes your job that much easier. Because they're just going to improve. Like I said when I was here with Derrick, he's going to work. He's in the gym; he's setting off the alarm at the Berto Center to get in there and shoot. Same thing with Blake; he's in the gym all summer working on his game. And his game will continually mature and get better. And that's the exciting part of it."