Game Notes: Magic at Bulls
“This is the NBA: No Boys Allowed.”
by Bryan Crawford / @_BryanCrawford
Looking at Derrick Rose’s stat line last night — 22 points on 6-21 shooting — it’s the kind of thing that a person heavily into stats would jump all over; like blood in the water to a shark. But that’s the problem with numbers sometimes, they often remove situational context.
No, Rose isn’t the most efficient scorer in the NBA, but he is one of the league’s toughest, and his gritty performance last night proved just that.
Recovering from the flu, and not being able to practice or eat due to suffering from not one, but two stomach ulcers, Rose still managed to go out and compete and help the Bulls knock off the Orlando Magic, 99-90. He could often be seen clutching his stomach at times during the game, and even bent over and squatting to try and alleviate the pain, but all in all, he displayed the kind of toughness that not only Bulls fans, but basketball fans in general can respect and like to see from pro athletes.
On playing with the pain from two ulcers Rose said, “It’s tough, but if you want to be a great player in this league, you’ve got to play through it. I always look at myself as an old-school type player. They were playing and I know some of them were feeling worse than me, so I should be able to fight through it.”
Added Rose, “[Orlando] smacked us both times we played them this year… that’s one of the reasons why I played. I know I’m sick, but I at least wanted to give my all out there. I’ll probably pass out or something, but I was going to play in this game.”
His grit and his toughness wasn’t lost on anyone inside the Bulls locker room either.
“Derrick’s, Derrick. The game starts, he’s going… Taking everything into consideration — not practicing, not feeling well — you can’t say enough about him,” said Tom Thibodeau. “It’s amazing the way he plays. He plays so hard and is taking hits all the time. The thing I respect is he always gets up.”
“Derrick is tough,” said Luol Deng. “He’s sick and his numbers were still unbelievable. He played great out there for us tonight.”
Added Carlos Boozer, “We take our hat off to him. I told him as soon as the game was over, ‘Way to gut it out for us.’ He had a great floor game – 12 assists, 2 turnovers — great point guards do that. I’m proud of him.”
It wasn’t just the play of Rose that delivered the victory, it was the play of the team as a whole. As has been their trademark all season, in the games that they’ve won, their defense was the key factor. Plus, they totally dominated Orlando on the glass, outrebounding them 54-40 in the game.
Although they did give up 40 points on offense to Dwight Howard, they managed to shut everyone else down. Gilbert Arenas was the only other Magic player in double figures with 11 points, and no one else scored more than 9 points.
Adding to Orlando’s struggles was the fact that Jameer Nelson was pulled from the game after playing just over 7 minutes due to a sore right knee to which Howard jokingly referred to him as “Jameer Cutler” as he limped around the locker room. But even though Dwight was his usual, playful self, he was in no mood to make excuses for the play of his team.
“We can’t win games playing defense like this. If you want to be a championship team, everybody’s got to step up and play ‘D’ no matter who’s on the floor,” said Howard. ”Jameer or not, our guys on the wing have to be able to guard a little bit better… The defense was terrible tonight.”
Part of that lapse on defense on the perimeter as the fact that Orlando allowed Luol Deng to totally take over the second half of the game. After scoring only 2 points and taking one shot in the first half, Deng came out like gangbusters and put up 16 points in the third quarter on 6-9 shooting, including 2-2 from the 3-point line. He would finish the game with 26 points, all while being guarded by Hedo Turkoglu.
“[Deng] dominated the second half. I mean, we didn’t guard him at all. I was disappointed,” said Stan Van Gundy.
“I think that Turk’s capable of far better defense than that. I thought it was Turk’s worst night at both ends of the floor. I just thought that he didn’t have much tonight. He didn’t play well at either end.”
But regardless of anything else, the story of the night was still Derrick Rose. He may not be the unanimous favorite for MVP, but he showed why he definitely deserved to be in the conversation. He gets it.
“This is the NBA: No Boys Allowed,” said Rose. “Mind over matter.”
And faced with having to play a back-to-back against the Pacers on Saturday night, Derrick clearly doesn’t plan on sitting that game out either.
“If tonight, I can’t breathe or can’t eat right or I’m having stomach problems, I’ll definitely let the [medical staff] know. But other than that, I’m playing.”