Derrick Rose Showing He Can Speed Chicago Bulls Back into Contention

COLUMBUS — It was but a blur, what happened back on May 26, 2011, a 12-point lead erased by the Miami Heat‘s 18-3 sprint to the buzzer, LeBron James celebrating an Eastern Conference championship on the recently crowned MVP’s home floor.

“At the end, it’s all me,” Derrick Rose lamented late that night. “Turnovers, missed shots, fouls.”

But, hey, at least he had his health. 

One knee shredded. Then, after a heralded returnand 10 games of 35.4 percent shootingthe other. 

Life has come at Derrick Rose fast.

Monday night, he came back at James’ new team even faster. 

“The fastest guy on the court by far,” Bulls center Joakim Noah said, smiling. 

That was the most meaningful takeaway from the preseason clash of expected Eastern Conference titans, an encounter that felt a bit like an extended trailer, a week prior to the premiere of the major motion picture.

Maybe the only meaningful takeaway: Rose is winning his matchup.

Not the one with Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving, though he did outscore his USA teammate, 30-28, in 14 fewer minutes of the Cavs’ 107-98 win, and did turn him into a turnstile on assorted occasions. 

Rose is winning the matchup…against himself.

Against his body, his luck, his doubts, or anything else that may hold him back from becoming something close to what he was. 

And if he wins that matchup, then this rivalry can be something close to what many NBA fans hope it will be, one in which each side will have considerable reason to respect and fear and loathe the other.

If Rose is absent or even ordinary, then a slew of squadsWashington Wizards, Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors, maybe even the Charlotte Hornets or Atlanta Hawkshave reasonable shots to claim a top-two spot in the East, even with Chicago bolstering the rest of the supporting cast around a team Noah led to a third seed in 2013-14. 

As James said during his postgame interview after the exhibition on the Ohio State University campus, “There’s too many teams in the Eastern Conference to just talk about the two of us.” 

But if Rose plays like he did Monday, all conference conversations, at least for this season, will stop and start here, with these two squads. Then all the other matchups will matter. Pau Gasol working against Anderson Varejao on one end. Kevin Love working against Joakim Noah on the other. James working against Jimmy Butler when Butler returns from a wrist injury, and against Thibodeau’s scheme, which has been one of the more compelling coach-player intellectual exercises in recent years, dating back to Thibodeau’s days as the Celtics‘ de facto defensive coordinator.  

“Thibs is going to play you how Thibs is going to play everybody,” said James, who recorded 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists in his final appearance of the preseason. “It doesn’t change. I’ve been against Thibs defenses for a long time. In Boston. And then coming to Chicago. He plays you the same way. Very aggressive. Kind of filters you into the paint. Don’t give you no 3′s. Wants you to take contested 2′s. Always keeps a body on you. We have the personnel for it, but it’s how we place the personnel out on the floor to help us succeed. I’ll be able to give some insight on them. It obviously won’t be (Monday) and it might not even be the second game of the season. But long-term so we can be ready for their defense.”

James will try to get his team to replicate his recent playoff success against the Bulls (8-2 while with Miami) rather than his regular-season struggles (5-8 while with the Heat), even if he actually has shot better against Thibodeau’s Bulls in the regular season (52.1 percent) than in the playoffs (44.2 percent).

The question is: What postseason round will the Cavaliers-Bulls matchup come?

That depends on Rose.

Solely on Rose. 

So there’s no way to overstate what was witnessed Monday, especially in the second and third quarters, when he scored 23 points on 13 shots in just over 11 minutes, routinely accelerating past and then splitting two, three, four or five defendersbefore finishing with a floater or a layup on either side of the rim.

Irving, Dion Waiters, Matthew Dellavadova, didn’t matter. At times, the Cavaliers looked like they were trying to trap a lizard while wearing slippers on a slick floor. At others, Rose’s jabstep had them backpedaling as abruptly and awkwardly as politicians after taking unpopular positions, giving him the space to sink four three-pointers, one-quarter of his total from the truncated 2013-14 season.

“Just playing,” Rose said, without the slightest excitement. “Staying consistent with my workouts, no matter how I’m playing. Still trying to find my rhythm. Let the game come to me, and just play team basketball. Really, they were just giving me shots that I normally would take. The team is feeling more comfortable with me being on the floor, I’m feeling comfortable with just picking my spots.”

And, at the end, James paid him the ultimate compliment, by picking him up on defense, as he’s previously done down the stretch of tight playoff games.

“I’m not surprised at all,” James said of Rose’s performance, noting that he had watched the latter practice for Team USA in Las Vegas, and seen some of his games in the preseason. “As a league, as a fan, it’s great to have him back, and him playing at a high level.” 

As a Bull?

Well, Thibodeau isn’t known for his ebullience: If he won the lottery, he might drone on about the need for an experienced accountant to carefully consider all of the tax implications. So this particular postgame press conference was about as giddy as he gets, with glowing adjectives added for emphasis. 

“I thought he played really well,” Thibodeau said. “He had a lot of explosiveness. Back-to-back, he got into a good rhythm. He was attacking. You know, it was good. Real good.”

Thibodeau acknowledged that Rose has “been up and down,” but he observed that recent practices have been better, and that Rose’s Team USA experiencewith five games in six days in one stretchgave both of them confidence that the guard could handle a greater workload. 

How will Rose’s re-emergence affect others?

“Oh, you’re talking about an MVP caliber player,” Thibodeau said. “So it makes the game easy for everybody. He’s getting easy baskets in transition, he’s attacking on the pick-and-roll, he’s in the paint, making plays. So it’s a positive.” 

Enough that it left Noah positively glowing. 

“I like his mentality,” he said. “He’s aggressive. I think we’re gonna be… I think we’re gonna be really good.” 

Monday night, the blur in red gave no cause to think otherwise. 

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Irving scores 28 as Cavs beat Bulls

Irving scores 20 of 28 in second half as Cavaliers beat Bulls 107-98

      
 

 

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Irving scores 28 as Cavs beat Bulls 107-98

Irving scores 20 of 28 in second half as Cavaliers beat Bulls 107-98

      
 

 

View full post on USATODAY – NBA Top Stories

Chicago Bulls vs. Cleveland Cavaliers 10/20/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Chicago Bulls, 107-98, in preseason action on Monday night. Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with 28 points and seven assists.

LeBron James added 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists in 32 minutes. Bulls guard Derrick Rose led all scorers with 30 points on 12-of-18 shooting.

Watch the video for full highlights.

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Cleveland Cavaliers beat Chicago Bulls, despite chemistry

Monday night the Chicago Bulls took on the Cleveland Cavaliers in what was a really entertaining game. It appeared to be a promising game for the Bulls, considering that Derrick Rose played with such a great amount of energy. He was very explosive up and down the court. His shooting touch has improved since the summer Olympic games. It was a good look for him at the Schottenstein Center on the campus of Ohio State University. Maybe Bulls fans felt overly confident due to LeBron’s modesty in a pre-game interview where he stated, “They’re (Bulls) much better than us right now, just off chemistry”. Whatever the case the end result, despite Rose’s 30 points, was a win for the Cavs, 107-98.  Kyrie Irving led the Cavs with 28 points and 7 assists. The Bulls did not have the guard who has made a real difference in their chemistry, Jimmy Butler. He sat out due to a left thumb injury. The last preseason game is Wednesday against Minnesota Timberwolves. The post Cavs beat Bulls, despite chem…

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Irving scores 28 as Cavs beat Bulls 107-98 (Yahoo Sports)

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 20: Kyrie Irving #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots against the Chicago Bulls on October 20, 2014 at Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State held its homecoming over the weekend when it named its king and queen.


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LeBron: Bulls are ‘much better’ than Cavs right now

Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports LeBron James says Chicago Bulls are better than his Cleveland Cavaliers. “[The Bulls] are a team that’s much better than us right now just off chemistry,” James said. “They’ve been together for a while, we’ve got a long way to go.” For the first time this preseason, James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving will start together on Monday night against the Bulls. James hopes the Cavs can build chemistry like the Bulls have, but the team won’t bond together with just preseason games or team dinners. “You’ve got to go through something to create a bond; that means for the worse,” James said. “We’ve got to lose ballgames that we think we should’ve won, we’ve got to get into an argument every now and then just to test each other out.” When James joined the Heat in 2010, that team struggled significantly from the start going 9-8.  But after the difficult first month, the Heat won 21 of 22 games and ended up reaching the Finals. “It has to happen

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Season Predictions and Analysis for the 2014-15 Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls will welcome back Derrick Rose this season, with high hopes of challenging for an NBA title. Can Pau Gasol help the Bulls take the next step?

Howard Beck and Ric Bucher join Adam Lefkoe to break down the upcoming season in Chicago in the video above.

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Charlotte Hornets vs. Chicago Bulls 10/19/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The Charlotte Hornets took on the Chicago Bulls in a preseason matchup on Sunday.

With Derrick Rose finally healthy, the Bulls are looking to prove the wide-open Eastern Conference runs through them.

The Hornets will be looking to return to the postseason and make a run with their young talent.

Watch the video for full highlights.

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Hinrich scores 26 points, Bulls beat Hornets (Yahoo Sports)

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 19: Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls attempts a free throw against the Charlotte Hornets on October 19, 2014 at United Center, Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bulls’ closer is almost back at full speed.


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