"It's important to get off to a good start just because there's
been so much negativity surrounding our team the last few years,''
said Rose, who scored three points in the last 1:27 to halt a
last-ditch Hornets run.
"We're just trying to change the attitude around. Hopefully
this is a start.''
It's certainly better than where the Bulls have been. They
hadn't been above .500 since the 1997-98 season, before the
rebuilding project began.
And while it's too early to start making plans for the playoffs,
give the Bulls some credit. These first two victories came against
Boston, an Eastern Conference finalist, and New Orleans, which is
expected to make the playoffs this year.
"A lot of people are writing us off, saying we're a fluke,''
Marshall said. "To ourselves, we're for real.''
The Bulls still have a lot to learn, though. After blowing a
16-point, fourth-quarter lead, they had to sweat out the last 3½
minutes as New Orleans made three 3-pointers to pull to 83-79 with
seven seconds left.
"I kind of sensed we were in a position this team hasn't been
in before,'' Rose said. "There haven't been that many games where
we're up by that many points and the starters are icing their knees
with five, six minutes left.
"The Hornets sensed that and knocked down a couple 3-pointers to
make it close,'' he added. "But we were in control the entire
Fouled by Wesley, Jamal Crawford made the first free throw with
four seconds left and then missed the second. The Bulls got the
rebound and ran out the clock.
"We didn't really do anything defensively until the fourth
quarter, and then it was too late,'' said Wesley, who had 19
points. "When you're playing a young team like this, you can't let
them get comfortable like we did. We did, and that's how they beat
"Historically, we have come in here and not played well, but
still been able to win,'' Charlotte coach Paul Silas said.
"Tonight it just caught up with us.''
The Bulls are still making the types of mistakes that come with
being the one of the league's youngest teams. They had 22
turnovers, which New Orleans turned into 23 points, and were sloppy
with the ball late in the fourth quarter.
But what they lack in polish, they make up for with energy. They
were diving for loose balls, making slick passes and working the
offense until they found an open shot.
And they're certainly more lively than they've been the past few
years. When Jay Williams wasn't on the floor, he was acting as head
cheerleader, waving his arms and encouraging the crowd to cheer.
When the Bulls forced a turnover midway through the fourth, Tyson
Chandler jumped off the bench as if he had springs on his shoes.
The crowd responded, making the United Center sound almost like
it used to. Of course, after four years of growing pains, the Bulls
are finally giving them something good to watch.
"We understand we're not going to be world-beaters every
night,'' Rose said. "We just want guys to compete hard every night
and get better.''
And Rose is leading the way. After the Hornets chipped a
six-point lead to 44-43 on Wesley's 21-footer with 9:41 left in the
third, Rose took control of the game. He hit a fallaway jumper to
spark an 11-2 run that gave Chicago a 55-45 lead with 5:08 left in
the third. The Bulls never trailed after that.
After starting the game 5-for-5, Marshall finished
7-for-11. ... Bulls second-year center Eddy Curry still doesn't
have a rebound after two games. ... Silas was called for a
technical in the first quarter. ... P.J. Brown was called for a
flagrant foul for dragging Chandler down from behind.