All-Star point guard Derrick Rose and his Chicago Bulls will meet Steve Nash and the red-hot Amar'e Stoudemire tonight, as the Phoenix Suns enter the United Center. Chicago has won two in a row and is trying to squeeze out as many victories as possible to catch the playoff ride as the eight seed.
Derrick Rose led the Bulls past Detroit two nights ago with 21 points and nine assists. Rose made a series of circus shots around the basket and got help from the bench, as Flip Murray connected for 23 points.
Center Joakim Noah is getting better each day. Noah has had some impressive dunks against New Jersey and Detroit that indicates his plantar fasciitis problems might be regressing. The 6'11 Noah adds a lot to the Bulls interior, as he's a constant threat to crash the offensive glass and clean up broken plays.
Rookie big man Taj Gibson has been one of the most reliable Bulls players since the All-Star break. Over his last 22 games, Gibson is averaging 11.0 points and 9.1 rebounds in 29.9 minutes a night, while shooting 55.5% from the floor. Gibson will see himself being matched up against the more physical Stoudemire, who's been doing his own thing as well.
Stoudemire is averaging 22.9 points and 8.9 rebounds on the year, but has stepped that up to 27.6 points and 9.9 rebounds after the All-Star break. The explosiveness that once defined his game has returned, and the rebounding has gone up. Stoudemire has often been labelled a poor rebounder due to his size and athleticism, but during the last 20 games he's taken a turn for the better.
Chicago needs a strong all-around effort tonight, if they hope to knock off Phoenix. The bench must step up, and it's important for Rose to establish himself offensively early.