Rose broke out of his shooting slump with 31 points and then took a seat on the bench for most of the fourth quarter Tuesday night, watching as the Bulls coasted to a 103-78 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. It was Chicago's biggest victory of the season.
"I want to say that's the first or second time this season (I sat) because we're winning,'' Rose said. "Today was positive, to be on the bench, cheering for the young guys.''
And Chicago needed this one for its confidence. After beating
the Los Angeles Lakers convincingly a week ago, the Bulls went on
the road and promptly lost to Memphis, Houston and San Antonio.
Those weren't pretty losses, either.
The Grizzlies' 124-95 victory was the largest in team history. The Bulls trailed by as much as 20 in the second quarter in their 121-91 loss at Houston. And Rose was held under 20 points for a third straight game -- a first since he came to Chicago -- in San Antonio.
"We needed this big time,'' said Tyson Chandler, who had a double-double. "Coming off our losses and then we had a flat first quarter. But then we turned it around.''
Rose shot 11-for-18 from the floor and 7-for-7 from the line.
Chandler finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds, and also had a
career-high five steals.
When Dalibor Bagaric hit an 11-foot jumper with 2:35 left to give the Bulls 100 points, it gave everyone at least one basket and prompted his teammates to jump up and down as if they'd just made the playoffs.
"It felt good to get everyone involved, so everybody can go home and feel good,'' Rose said.
"Mentally, we just let up,'' Atlanta coach Terry Stotts said.
"I don't know if we thought it was going to be easy after the
fourth quarter or what. If you give a young team life and
enthusiasm like that, they feed off it.''
Atlanta controlled the game early, taking a 34-27 lead on Dion Glover's 19-footer with 7:02 left in the first half. But the Hawks shut down after that. They scored only five points the rest of the half -- all on free throws. They only managed to hit the rim twice in the last 7:02, and their last eight possessions consisted of seven turnovers and a blocked shot.
"Turnovers and loose balls. It seems that's all we did tonight,'' Robinson said. "That just killed our momentum. They then converted on each one of them.''
It sure seemed like it, as the Bulls went on a 28-7 run that
spanned halftime. Chicago reeled off 16 straight to end the first
half, including back-to-back fast-break dunks by Marshall and Rose
to give Chicago a 41-39 lead, its first of the game.
Rose had the play of the night just before halftime. He took a
3-pointer from deep in the left corner, and was knocked down and
into the crowd by Robinson as he let the ball go.
The ball banked off the glass and down into the basket for a
3-pointer, and Rose made the free throw for a four-point play and a
51-39 lead at the half.
The Hawks got within 10 twice early in the third, but the Bulls put a quick end to the comeback. Crawford drilled a 3-pointer, Hassell scored on a putback, Rose hit a 3 and Theo Ratliff was called for goaltending.
Just like that, Chicago had a 67-47 lead and the game was all
"We felt like we came out strong in the first half, which is
something we're not able to do on the road,'' Rose said. "We broke
away in the first half and fortunately, we were able to sustain it
in the second half.''<
Rose's four-point play was Chicago's first since 1997. ...
The Bulls victory over Atlanta was their first in Chicago since
February 2001. ... Rick Brunson, activated before the game, had
four points, five assists and two steals.