Game Notes: Hornets vs Bulls
Chris Paul and Derrick Rose do battle and it’s the fans who win.
By Allen Powell II
In Bruce Lee’s classic fight flick “Enter the Dragon” the basic plot is that a group of elite marital artists is invited to a remote island to engage in a battle for supremacy. With its focus on mano-a-mano battle, the movie provides a great framework for viewing Saturday’s matchup between Chris Paul and Derrick Rose. While coaches and players may focus on the big picture of which team gets the win, for many fans the game was about who is the best point guard in the NBA.
“Enter the Dragon” features Lee as a Shaolin master charged with avenging his sister’s death and overthrowing a former Shaolin master who has forsaken the order’s true values for self-advancement. Chris Paul versus Derrick Rose features some of those same themes.
Paul has been hailed by many as the perfect, traditional point guard, an upholder of the sacred tenets of efficiency and team success. Paul attacks his opponents with a probing, herky-jerky style that creates scoring opportunities for others through the combination of constant pressure and an always dangerous ability to score.
Paul uses no unnecessary movements and takes no unnecessary shots. In addition, he loves to bait his opponents into mistakes and complacency before moving in for the kill. His style is reminiscent of the character of “Roper” played by John Saxon.
If Paul is Roper, then Rose’s game matches perfectly with the exuberant antics, Afro and arsenal of “Williams” played by Jim Kelly. While Rose lacks Williams’ gift of gab, his game features an impeccable handle and now deadly shooting. Yet, it’s still Rose’s ability to attack the rim with a ferocity and agility unrivaled in the league that gives opposing coaches nightmares.
Tradition might dictate that point guards rarely shoot, but just as Jim Kelly answered a complaint about his unorthodox style with a note about its effectiveness, so has Rose answered attacks on his shot totals with gaudy averages of 25 points and 8 assists. Not to mention a team record that’s good enough for top three in the East.
But to win Saturday’s battle the two guards must remember the lessons espoused by Lee as he prepared to leave his home for the tournament. When asked by his teacher how he should carry himself against his upcoming opponents Lee replied:
“A good martial artist does not become tense, but ready. Not thinking, yet not dreaming. Ready for whatever may come. When the opponent expands, I contract. When he contracts, I expand. And when there is an opportunity, I do not hit.
It (Lee says holding up his fist) hits all by itself.”
Let the tournament begin.
Hornets start Chris Paul, Willie Green David West, Aaron Gray and Trevor Ariza. Bulls start Derrick Rose, Keith Bogans, Kurt Thomas, Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng.
Oh yeah, the Honey Bees are dressed really inappropriately tonight with some tight, tiny black shorts, half shirts and calf boots. Somebody is going to eff up his Valentine’s Day with a wandering eye tonight.
Hornets start off putting Paul in a lot of pick and rolls. That may be because of Rose’s rep on defense, and it may be because that’s the play Paul loves to run. Since Coach Monty Williams gave Rose props on his defense before the game, let’s go with the latter. The Bulls return the favor, but since their basic offense also involves a lot of pick and rolls it’s not a big deal.
Paul is prober on pick and rolls, but Rose is an exploder. Once he gets to the free throw line extended with a decent path to the hoop, it’s curtains. LeBronesque you could say.
Early on, Paul is being much more aggressive looking for his shot than normal. He has a beautiful mid-range, and sinks it easily when Rose gets caught up on screens. Rose is running his team well, but the Hornets will live with jumpers by Keith Bogans. (I was wrong about this.)
Nasty crossover by CP3 to break Rose down. Paul used the threat of a pick to get Rose leaning, then crossed back and used a ball fake to freeze the help defender. Rose recovers amazingly, and appears to make a great left-handed block, but gets called for the foul. Paul already has six of the Hornets 14 points. Rose hasn’t made a field goal, and the score is Hornets 14 and Bulls 12 with 5:55 in the first quarter.
Rose goes coast to coast off a Paul miss in the lane with the two-handed dunk to finish. Chris Paul is one of the quickest guards in the league and he had no shot keeping up with Rose. Rose accelerates like a Ferrari, while Paul is more like a Corvette due to the knee injury. Hornets are trapping Rose in the half court on screens to cut off driving lanes, but in the open floor that can’t happen.
You know, Bulls fans complain that Rose doesn’t get calls. They might be right. Crowd goes nuts because of a Jason Smith block on Rose, but it should have been a foul in the lane on West for the bump before the shot. Rose is 1 for 7 right now, but it’s been a team effort by the Hornets on defense.
If it’s possible, sometimes Rose doesn’t shoot enough. He’s making the correct pass when a defender helps on his drives, but his shot over two defenders in the lane might actually be the better bet. Yet, Rose doesn’t seem like a cat who wants to shoot a lot, and then shoot some more.
“Very few people are totally ruthless. It isn’t easy; it takes more strength than you would believe.”
Bulls have managed to take the lead in this game, 24 to 22 mainly because Taj Gibson and Omer Asik > David Andersen and Jason Smith.
Rose took eight shots to get eight points in the first quarter, while Paul got the same points on half the shots. Trend?
With Paul and Rose both out, the two teams aren’t exactly crisp in their offenses. There are lots of turnovers, offensive fouls and missed cutters. But, Jarrett Jack might be the best back-up point guard in the League. C. J. Watson isn’t horrible either.
Bulls want to take advantage of Boozer against David Andersen. The Hornets do a decent job of doubling enough so that Boozer can’t dominate, but he is skilled at creating contact and getting to the free throw line.
Refs are really foul happy this game. Both also play very close defense, which means more fouls.
Marcus Thornton is giving the Hornets a nice scoring boost off the bench. He and Jack work well together.
As much as Boozer struggles against length, he absolutely kills inferior bigs. He attacks them constantly, and keeps them off-balance leading to fouls. The Hornets have to send a double every time he touches the rock with Andersen or Jason Smith on him. Okafor would be very helpful right now.
For a knockdown shooter, Kyle Korver misses on a lot of good looks. I think I’d rather have Eddie House. Thoughts?
Rose takes it to the rack and shoots the floater over two people. Sometimes a scorer has to attack the double team or he gives it too much power.
“Lee: There is no opponent.
Shaolin Abbot: And why is that?
Lee: Because the word “I” does not exist.
Marcus Thornton has hit three straight shots and now has 14 in the half. The Bulls want to play Deng and Korver together, but neither one has the foot speed to hang with Thornton and he’s getting open looks. As everybody knows, the Bulls are a two guard away from something special. Hornets are 51 to 42 thanks to Thornton.
Right now, Paul has 11 points and 3 assists on 3 of 5 shooting. Rose has 10 points and 3 assists on 3 of 10 shooting. A surface examination would say the game is holding true to form, but the truth is the Hornets’ defense is geared towards stopping Rose, while the Bulls don’t seem to have that same concern about Paul. Plus, Paul’s teammates are hitting shots.
The Hornets are up 53 to 42 right now and the story is that the Hornets defensive gameplan for Rose has been more effective than what the Bulls are doing to Paul. Is that because Paul is a much better defender than Rose? I don’t think so.
While scoring is the easiest way to dominate a game, it’s also the easiest skill to gameplan to stop. Coaches can commit more bodies to scorers to slow them down and force the rest of the team to show up. Right now, most of the Bulls aren’t showing up, and their typically stout defense abandoned them in the second quarter. They need better defense and something on offense from a perimeter player not named Rose to prevent a loss in the last game of this five-game road trip.
David West is a beast in the high post. That is all.
Willie Green is loving life as a starter, and as a two guard next to CP3. He just looks more comfortable and is far more effective than Belinelli.
The Bulls, as a whole, are not the best passing team in the league. Nobody is truly selfish, but they don’t really see each other. Even when they do recognize the correct pass, they can struggle to make it.. The ball gets delivered late or off target. Maybe it’s just tonight, but it’s hurting them.
Kurt Thomas’ defensive effort puts younger men to shame. Carlos Boozer should do some penance.
When Rose gets to the free throw line with a chance to drive to the rim, you can hear the building take a deep breath. Only Blake Griffin and LeBron generate the same reaction.
Keith Bogans is hitting shots and making his detractors liars right now. He and Boozer both have 11 points. Rose is moving the ball out of the double team and getting the hockey assist that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet.
Derrick Rose has 19 with 5:35 in the third. Dude is taking a lot of shots, but they aren’t bad shots. Right now, neither he nor Paul is running away with their individual matchup and the Hornets lead is down to 5 points.
Hornets are in the bonus, but they are missing a lot of free throws.
Nobody on the Bulls team other than Boozer and Rose can create their own shot. This puts an incredible amount of pressure on Rose when Boozer sits. It makes his game less efficient, and with Paul’s individual defense and the help he’s getting from his teammates Rose has been unable take over this game.
Kurt Thomas went to the James Posey School of Fouling. Lesson One: Foul hard. Lesson Two: Foul often. Lesson Three: Foul through the whistle. Thomas said after the game his goal was to push West off his sweet spots in the high post without giving him clear paths to the basket.
Marcus Thornton is having a huge game. He’s got 20 on 7-11 with 2:42 in the third. He’s getting to the bucket, but he’s also stroking the jumper. For Chicago, Bogans is the only perimeter player other than Rose in double figures. The score is Hornets 73 and Bulls 67.
When Derrick Rose doesn’t have the ball, the Bulls seem to lack direction on offense. And when he does have the ball they spend way too much time standing and looking. Makes the Hornet’s job much easier, and the Hornets are just outworking the Bulls. The Hornets also are getting into their offense much quicker than the Bulls. I’m not sure if that’s because of Paul, or just the sets they run.
With all that said, it’s only a three-point lead for the Hornets. 74-71.
The Bulls should increase their tempo. Yes, it could hurt them on defense, but it’s impossible to quantify how good Rose is on the break. He needs to get there more often.
Rose is a better defender than people think. He’s still not on Paul’s level. Third quarter ends with the Hornets up 74 to 72.
“Han:: We are all ready to win, just as we are born knowing only life. It is defeat that you must learn to prepare for.
Williams: I don’t waste my time with it. When it comes, I won’t even notice.
Han: Oh? How so?
Williams: I’ll be too busy looking gooood.”
Derrick Rose just did a ridiculous spin move on the fast break and finished with a reverse. That will make Smitty’s top five plays under the rim.
If Ronnie Brewer had a reliable jumper he’d be dangerous. And if wishes were fishes we’d all have sushi.
Luol Deng plays an insane amount of minutes. Either Thibodeau really loves him, or he doesn’t trust anyone else to be his backup.
The Bulls’ bench, overall, is better than the Hornets. If not for Thornton being in beast mode, the Hornets would be getting hurt every time the starters sit.
And the bench has given the Bulls a three-point lead with 7:23 left in the game. The Hornets bench doesn’t defend well at all. The drop off defensively from the starters is shocking. Monty Williams goes back to Paul and West, and the Bulls have pushed the lead to five points.
Bulls are going hard to the offensive glass. Brewer in particular is effective. The Bulls reserves have taken control of this game and Chicago is up 87-80.
Ariza is nasty in the passing lanes. Monty Williams said before the game that with Ariza’s gambling ways sometimes you have to “laugh now and cry later.”
After starting off incredibly efficiently, Chris Paul has only made one field goal since the first quarter. He’s 3-10 right now. He has however gotten to the line eight times, but that’s still pretty impressive defense by Rose and the Bulls.
Derrick Rose just hit a floater from his hip, over two defenders. It was both a bad shot and a great shot.
“The battle with the guards was magnificent. Your skill is extraordinary…”
Despite being the best player on his team, Chris Paul spends a nice chunk of time watching other players do stuff with the ball. Also, the Hornets have missed 11 free throws. They are down by 10, 95-85. The Bulls have only allowed 34 points since the first half. Impressive. The Bulls only give up 14 points in the fourth quarter.
Final score is Bulls 97 and Hornets 88.
In the end, Rose won both the matchup and the game. After some early trouble handling the Hornets trapping defense, he began to see the open players, and understand how to take advantage of the Hornets slow rotations on the weak side when he made the skip pass. Rose made great decision in avoiding over penetrating, and allowing his teammates to start the ball rotation that kills any defense not committed to help and recover.
Paul finished with 15 point and six assists, while Rose finished with 23 and 6. Although Rose had four turnovers, Paul only shot 3-10 for the game.
“I see your talents have gone beyond the mere physical level. Your skills are now at the point of spiritual insight. I have several questions. What is the highest technique you hope to achieve ?
To have no technique.”