Game Notes: Rockets at Bulls
The Great Poohdini.
by Bryan Crawford / @_BryanCrawford
As the saying goes: big time players make big time plays.
Derrick Rose is a big time player.
The Chicago Bulls came into Saturday night’s game on a two-game losing skid and were looking to get back into the win column as they continued the process of assimilating Carlos Boozer into their system.
Meanwhile, the Houston Rockets, who are still without their two best players in Yao Ming and Aaron Brooks, came into the United Center looking for their third consecutive win after previous victories over the Los Angeles Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies.
Over the first 15 games of the season — despite a very misleading 9-6 record — the Bulls had been playing very good basketball. However, with the return of Carlos Boozer from injury and then immediately being thrust into the starting lineup, it seemed to disrupt the rhythm that the Bulls had found themselves in.
They were blown out by the Orlando Magic at home on Wednesday night in a very uninspired effort, and then suffered yet another loss at the hands of the Boston Celtics on the road Friday night.
Losing three games in a row would not be an option for the Bulls on Saturday — even if they were playing the second game of a road/home back-to-back – as they defeated the Rockets in overtime 119-116.
Carlos Boozer showed why he was more than just a consolation prize in free-agency this summer as he played like the Boozer of old dropping 25 points and grabbing 9 rebounds.
“Every day is a little bit more comfortable. Every day I’m getting in a little bit better shape. Every day I’m more comfortable with my hand getting hit. Every day I’m getting more comfortable on offense. I’m still learning everything. This is kind of like my preseason for me because these are the first games I’ve played in. I’m learning on the fly, but hopefully we can keep winning,” said Boozer after the game.
While he may have seemed to find his offensive rhythm, defensively Boozer is still a work in progress. Never known as a great defender, he gave up 27 points and 8 rebounds on the other end to Luis Scola who’s low-post skills are on par with Boozer’s. But as the season progresses and with Tom Thibodeau stressing the importance of defense every day in practice, Boozer can and should get better on that end of the floor as the season progesses.
But the story of the night was Derrick Rose.
For the fifth time this season he notched another career high, this time in steals, registering 5 in the game to go along with his 30 points and 11 assists. His will to not let the Bulls lose was apparent and his offensive arsenal was on full display.
From crossovers leading to two-hand and even a left-handed driving dunk, to hitting on 4 of his 6 three-point attempts, Rose was in a groove. And when the game was on the line, he hit the biggest shot of the night as he nailed a three-pointer to send the game into overtime.
“The gave me a little bit of room, I’ve been working on the shot and I just shot it,” said Rose. “At first, they guarded it well. That’s why I had to throw it to Joakim and he handed it back and I had a little bit of daylight. Right when I let it go, I knew it was going in.”
Rose although usually reserved and in charge of his emotions on the floor, excitedly celebrated with his teammates as the United Center crowd erupted just as the ball swished through the net.
“I think that’s the first time I celebrated after one of my shots all year. It just felt good knowing that in those situations I’m capable of knocking down shots like that,” said Rose.
Added Tom Thibodeau on the performance of Rose, “[Derrick] was terrific. I thought the first half he set the tone for the defense with his ball pressure. He really competed hard. I thought he had a great edge to him today. He came out and it was right from the start of the game. The thing that I like is that I thought he was attacking on defense, too. A normal game, he’s always attacking on offense, but when he’s attacking on defense, it makes our defense totally different.”
Rose still does not receive the same kind praise as other point guards around the NBA. While people speak glowingly of Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams, Chris Paul and lately, Russel Westbrook — who is a similar player – Rose for whatever reason seems to be the player that everyone likes to pick apart. However, his play on Saturday night was yet another example of why the criticisms of him tend to be unfair.
Rose still doesn’t seem to be getting the respect from the referees either. He doesn’t get the “superstar calls” that other players in the NBA seem to get as he didn’t shoot one free-throw in the game against Houston. Although he seemed frustrated by it, Rose isn’t letting the lack of calls going his way get to him.
“That’s not going to change my game,” said Rose. “I always say that I didn’t come into this league from shooting jump shots. I went a whole game without shooting free-throws, it hurts. But I can say that I’m grateful to get this win.”
The Chicago Bulls play the Oklahoma City Thunder in Chicago on Monday night and the matchup between Rose and Westbrook should be exciting to watch.