Derrick Rose a challenge for Clippers

Updated: December 30, 2011, 11:51 AM ET
By Pedro Moura | ESPNLosAngeles.com

PLAYA VISTA, Calif. -- Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Paul will be assigned perhaps the toughest task of them all Friday, when he's charged with marking reigning league MVP Derrick Rose in the Clippers' game against the Chicago Bulls at the Staples Center.

But he won't be asked to do it alone. The Clippers will give the 6-foot Paul a lot of help defending the 6-foot-3 Rose and may switch guards Randy Foye, Mo Williams and Chauncey Billups on to him at certain points in Friday's game.

"It's tough to defend him," Paul said Thursday, after the Clippers' lone practice in preparation for the Bulls. "He shoots the ball extremely well and is unbelievably fast.

"He's one of those guys that you have to contain as a team -- I don't think one guy can defend a guy like that."

Rose, a fourth-year player, averaged 33 points in two games against the Clippers last season -- the most he put up against any team in the 2010-11 season. But the Bulls went only 1-1 in those contests, falling 100-99 to the Clippers in December after Rose missed a game-tying free throw with 0.8 seconds left at the United Center.

In the next game, Rose said he wanted "revenge" -- and he got it, leading Chicago to an 18-point win at Staples Center in February.

Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro coached Rose for two years in Chicago -- both men's first two years in the NBA. He said he saw Rose improving regularly while he was there -- and added that he's kept improving since he left.

"Derrick is a special person and special player," Del Negro said. "He continues to get better. You see that when you play him."

Del Negro spotlighted Rose's shooting and range as key aspects of his game that have improved in the last year-plus. Rose won the MVP award last season on the strength of his outside shooting -- going along with the passing and defensive skills he had displayed in his first two seasons.

The Bulls were without center Joakim Noah in the first of the two games last season. He'll suit up Friday alongside Rose, new acquisition Rip Hamilton and forwards Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng.

There are a lot more offensive options for coach Tom Thibodeau, but the Clippers still expect everything to run through Rose.

"We know what they're gonna do," Del Negro said. "The ball's going to be in Derrick's hands."

Pedro Moura is a reporter for ESPNLosAngeles.com.

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