Rose is back. Like for real.

Rose is back.  Like for real.

The Bulls earned themselves a rare win against the Portland Trailblazers [and oddly enough, this season, a rare win at home] last night behind the efforts of Derrick Rose who actually looked like superstar Derrick Rose.

Terry Stots said his priorities for defending Rose were keeping him away from the rim and running him off the three point line. Why anyone would make running Rose off the three point line a priority is beyond me, but he was 50% successful in these goals as Derrick Rose took only two threes, his lowest amount this season.

However he took 22 twos, and knocked down 14 of them. He added three free throws to finish with 31 points. Rose lived at the rim. He showed us the one man fast break again. He looked too big, too strong, too fast, and too good.

There were hints of it last game when he had that stretch of three possessions in a row where he scored, but this wasn't just a flash mixed into a game still dominated by chucking threes. This was an all out, all game, domination. Derrick showed the full repertoire including an off the dribble step back mid range shot to ice the game after Damien Lillard drilled a three to bring the Blazers back close.

This was the first real Derrick that we've seen since the first couple games of the season. Hopefully Rose uses this as a springboard to continue this style and level of play going forward. Hopefully there's no soreness, tweaks, or anything else leaving the game.

WTF, Mirotic with 18 minutes

Nikola Mirotic was the Bulls best big last night by my count. Yet he only played 18 minutes. It wasn't a matter of effort either. Mirotic looked like he was putting a ton of effort every play.

In his 18 minutes he still scored 15 with nine boards. He missed a few bunnies as well which could have given him an even bigger night. He was active on defense and though Aldridge scored over him a couple times [though not so much as Gibson], he defended him strong and forced really difficult shots.

It was great to see his play even if disappointing to see how little of it there was. On a night where Gibson didn't really have it going on either end of the court, I don't see why he's playing 44 minutes.

Aaron Brooks gave you D-Rose light

Aaron Brooks is just finishing with incredible accuracy at the rim. He was 8-10 on the night with four assists and just one turnover. Outside of one ridiculous three point attempt where he dribbled around for about 16 seconds only to take a contested fadeaway three without ever passing, Brooks just dominated.

He slithered into the paint at will, hit all kinds of acrobatic shots, and Portland didn't know what to do with him. I loved the few minutes we saw Brooks and Rose play together in crunch time, especially since Brooks had it going on.

Hopefully that's a trend that continues.

Big win

This was a big win for Chicago.

They've struggled at home.

They've struggled against Portland.

They've not had many quality wins this season.

This checked a lot of boxes for Bulls fans. Chicago has plenty of tough games coming up as I noted two posts ago, let's hope they can prove themselves over that stretch and prove themselves as a true contender.

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  • Rose looked great! But I was never worried about his game only his health. Mirotic continues to surprise me with his quickness and energy. He was the best defender on Aldridge last night, jumped passing lanes, led the break some and is showing excellent court vision and passing, and continued to beat the Portland bigs down the court. He has been REALLY impressive as a rookie! It would be great to see him get more minutes but I'm not gonna question what Thibs is doing he's seems to have the team rolling on offense! Now if we can only fix what use to be our stregnth in defending the pick and roll we can start to really dominate

  • I also was and still is not worried about his game, it's foolish ones that are. It's his health and only his health that anyone should worry about. Nice to see him looking healthy, and at the same time under control.

    A lot of his baskets weren't really at the rim, which is even better if he keeps stopping short with floaters and avoiding too much contact.

    Agreed about Mirotic, he was having a great game and Taj was struggling, obviously still not at 100% yet Thibs keeps him in for 44 minutes? It is hard to gain Thibs' trust, even when it's blatantly obvious Mirotic was doing better than Taj last night. Although the 4th quarter defense was much better from Taj and the rest of the gang until the end when they once again struggle a little putting games away.

    Once the Bulls string together a few good wins, and putting away teams earlier, with Rose playing like this more, then we can say Rose is back, as well as the Bulls. But it is still going to take some time to look like the dominating team in the East we know they are.

    Wow Aldridge made some sick shots that anyone prolly would not have been able to stop in the 1st half, same thing with Lillard at times, it was fun to watch really.

  • In reply to Keep:

    Yea, Lillard was insane from beyond the arc. That's probably the one area where he dominates Rose.

    Aldridge always seems to absolutely kill us, even when Noah guards him. If he played the way that he plays against us against the rest of the league, he would lead the league in scoring and be a legitimate MVP candidate. Yet his regular numbers are in line with what the bozohole used to put up when he was in the western conference. I wonder if he has some weird grudge against the Bulls for drafting him and immediately trading him for Tyrus Thomas and Victor Kruyapa.

  • Brooks was 8-10 and should be getting 8-10 of Kirk's minutes. He's the Bulls most efficient 4th qtr player shooting 55% and 50% from 3. As soon as he came onto the floor last night with Rose the offense changed instantly. If Rose can keep up those contested floaters he's unstoppable. They only started contesting them in second half.

  • Derrick Rose - your stud.. SG

    Derrick Rose said he wants to save his knees for a graduation someday..blah..blah..blah.. Derrick Rose was cleared to play, but stayed out of the playoffs..blah..blah..blah.. Derrick Rose(along with Aaron Brooks) just destroyed a potent Western Conference team - skip the blahs.

    Two points: 1) Derrick Rose IMO has shown at times he can be an offensive stud as a SG. Rose against Wade and others has lit it up when freed from PG duties(drudgery). This has prompted many Bulls posters over time to voice such that Derrick Rose should play significant minutes at the two: especially against teams without a star, potent slashing SG.

    Against Portland, Derrick scored many of his two pointers playing off the ball(with fellow occasional stud A. Brooks) with sweet floaters and really "post up" push shots several of them against Portland's bigs. In this steady diet of "post play" his occasional continuations to the basket especially for layups he doesn't get walloped because defenders can't over commit to the notion that he's driving when most times he's unleashing the floater or pulling up for the push/post shots. He can pick his spots when to continue with often away hand layups that are unstoppable. Really where Derrick is a beast is when he unleashes the ball in the mid post(and not on the perimeter).Then he sets up defenders with that and they give him space for the easy foul line length pull up J's.

    2) The Bulls should consider/Derrick Rose needs a fairly studly legit PG or combo who can function handling the ball(Tyreke Evans/Aaron Afflalo - examples only, maybe someone with better handles) to play along side. Yes he can't always play the two spot or SG, but Derrick Rose can be much more effective without the ball receiving it to attack in the flow and rhythm of an offense as a SG, not standing dribbling as predictable double teamed(playoffs) PG. Not only that, but we saw in the past he can guard shorter SG's like D-Wade at times pretty well.

    Again, I've always thought and stated that Derrick guarding other PG's was often a bad thing in the sense that he uses up so much energy being picked off and fighting through PG screens with bigs. To me, it's much easier for Derrick to guard two's that are not just beasts one on one then it is to contend with just all the myriad bullshit guarding the other teams point guards entails. Save that energy and strength for the offense.

    Bottom line: Whether it's Aarron Brooks or some other acquired PG/combo (not Klank) Rose has a freedom playing off the ball that to me could not only be a huge boon to his offensive game, but keep him away from wear and tear and physical injuries.

    I've always wished the Bulls would have gotten a guy like Damian Lillard and had Derrick move over to the two. Yes he's defensively a cross match at times, but offensively you take a potent PG who can score and drive along with Derrick and essentially you'ved solved the problem of the second penetrator(or for homophobes slasher). It would be devastating offensively and defensively is there a better tactician then Thibs to use Noah etc. as center fielders against slashers from the top of the key?

    D-Rose was a beast tonight especially playing with Aaron Brooks. I highly doubt the Bulls will see things this way as Derrick is better at the two and go out and try to find a legit PG/combo, but I think it would be a great move: preferably someone with height who can share in guarding twos with cross matches. While I definitely would consider making moves to facilitate D-Rose playing much of his game at the two, I know it will probably NOT happen. Maybe Brooks plays well enough to continue the pattern as a featured lineup with he and Derrick together. Playoffs wise though that may not work for major minutes game in game out as Brooks is not really a starter type. Anyway, Derrick Rose SG - I only wish it were so.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    This is definitely one of the best ideas that I have heard. You point out how well it can work and on the defensive end they can figure it out. I believe you also implied that then Noah could maybe go back to being a great point-center (funny saying that) like he was last year as well??? I dunno if that's what you also meant, but it will definitely would be helpful in the playoffs when everyone keys in on Rose. The only difference this year is we have 2 more scorers in Jimmy and Pau so maybe they will be okay even if Rose stays at the point (which he obviously will). But I like your thought process here...

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    For all the problems that people talk about Tyreke Evans having, I've always felt that he was an intriguing target for the Bulls, and would have been enthusiastic about acquiring him. Despite not being your classic shooting guard(i.e. not a great 3 point shooter) he would seem to be a good fit with Rose and Butler as that would give you 3 physical/athletic guys who can all handle some and penetrate. It would also seem to give you a lot of flexibility on defense as Evans like Jimmy can bounce around guarding pg, sg or sf from possession to possession.

    Bad timing though, since Evans just scored 31(along with Ryan Andersons 30 with 8 3's) to lead the Anthony Davis less Pelly's to a victory over the Spurs. Actually, I don't see the Pelly's looking to get rid of him now with Gordon as the guy they'd love to dump. Plus with Taj being our best asset to offer in return, that doesn't seem to be a good match for them.

    Also, under you scenario, Elfrid Payton would have been a great draft choice for the Bulls this past summer. He is a bigger pg who could play with Rose. He went 10th to Philly but only in a prearranged trade with Orlando at 12 for Dario Saric. Theoretically we could have intercepted Saric at 11 and traded him to Philly for Payton. Oh well, maybe someday McPillsbury actually becomes McBucketts and we won't have to lament such things.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    I think the bulls will target a combo guard like this in the draft. Rose is a combo guard. And they need another combo guard to complement DRose. CaptKlank is the current other combo guard on the roster. The bulls know next year will probably be kirks last in a uniform (he might become a bulls coach) They could package the 2 1st and move up like they did with McDoughboy. The Harrison pg/sg from Kentucky is legit. He has the size and all the physical tools. I watched him today against UNC another team filled with McDonalds all Americans. Harrison will be a really good defender in the NBA and he can get into the lane with strength and pass out of the lane.

    Totally different train of thought but I wish the bulls would have looked at KJ McDaniels. He is the only rookie that is keeping up with Mirotic, Wiggins and Parker. There is something to be said about guys with true elite athleticism. Another freak of nature in college right now is JP Tokoto. He is originally from wisconsin but is at UNC right now. He is not going to come out this year but he will be a player to watch. If you havent seen his highlight tape you are missing out. 2nd best dunker ever in Chapel hill. Right behind Air Canada, and yes Tokoto is better than His Airness himself at dunking. His assist numbers are also really good. He has a great entry pass. He is learning to handle the ball more and shoot with confidence.

    Bulls fans have to understand that in order to get on the court for Thibs you have to play defense, especially as a wing.

  • Seriously, I want to see Taj traded as soon as possible, just to protect the team from Thibs. I'm tired of seeing Taj get Niko's minutes, and it will get worse when Noah returns. Niko is an ascending player with a much higher ceiling. Taj is in decline at this stage of his career. If Niko got 30 regular minutes for the rest of the season, come playoff time, Niko could very well be the better player, or at least nearly as good. Bulls need a fourth big man who can play 10-12 minutes per night, but that simply isn't the role for Niko. Furthermore, this might be the last year that you could really get something for Taj. He is seen as a starting caliber player on a team-friendly contract, how long will that perception last? Strike now. Deal Taj for a couple of firsts or something, he would fetch more than Deng, right? Then come closer to the deadline, you could package those picks to get a top 20-25, starting caliber wing player, then the Bulls are serious title contenders. If nobody becomes available, then fine, you have a bunch of picks to work with. I think it would be much like it was with trading Deng: Thibs wouldn't like it, Noah wouldn't like it, most of the players wouldn't like it, but they wouldn't really miss him, and now they have a valuable pick.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Spot on, I said almost precisely the same thing a couple of weeks ago in response to one of your posts defending the long term view of Mirotic over Taj, when you said that nobody is suggesting that Niko is better than Taj right now. With every passing game the fact that Taj and Niko are passing each other in opposite directions like 2 ships in the middle of the night becomes more obvious.

    I've always liked Taj, I actually suggested drafting him(before the draft) but I started to notice his issues last season even when he was indispensable to the Bulls. Now with the emergence of Mirotic and the addition of Gasol and his declining defense and rebounding issues he is certainly not indispensable. Like you said, he is actually our best trade asset until the rest of the league figures it out.

    You are absolutely right about the way the team would react to a move, which is why I doubt that it happens in season. Also trading him for just draft picks during the season would weaken our chances to win this season. We really cannot afford to do that since we are presently in the prime of Rose's career which even with health might only last another 3-4 years.

    It is a really tough call, but boy everything you said sure does make sense.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Reply to both Roman and BigWay.

    1) I agree - it is a problem with Thibs overplaying Taj and underplaying Mirotic, especially when Nicola is haveing a really strong game.

    2) However a trade of Taj just for picks is out of the question - the Bulls have to get back the starting SG/SF in this trade. So they may need to include a #1 pick in the deal.
    They already have two #1s so why would they move Taj for an additional two #1s? They do not need four #1 picks this next draft, they need a starting SG/SF, and soon. That could bring the title.

    3) I like the suggestion made recently, trade Taj and the Kings pick for Afflalo and Nurkic. Afflalo is much better than Dunleavy, so he would start. Thus the Bulls would improve at both their starting and backup SG positions, which is the current area of weakness.
    Of course Taj is a better F than Nurkic, but Nurkic would be adequate if any of Noah, Gasol or Mirotic goes out with an injury.

  • I have a gut feeling that Taj will need to go to keep Butler anyway, so this year could be considered a development year for Niko, but the way he plays, this kid is going to be an all star level player in a couple years. What Thibs should do is to try Niko at SF for a few minutes, which I think he is able to do. Great pick by the Bulls and now with the health of the team, there is nothing to prevent them to run for a title this year.

  • Rose injured his hamstring in Toronto on Thursday Nov. 13, so the Portland game was 29 days after the injury. Yes, it takes a month or more to recover from a hamstring injury. And while Rose is playing better now than 1-2 weeks ago, his hamstring is still not fully healed.

    So all the comments/media about Rose is lazy, doesn't care, etc. was just mindless garbage. Everyone needs to let Rose go through the process of coming back from 2 years off and two knee surgeries. We all knew Rose's comeback season would be filled with ups and downs. Last night was an up. Let's be patient, the playoffs are what matters.

  • After just reading the title of your post, I wanted to comment before I read it today so as not to color my thoughts.

    While I agree with your title premise about Rose's performance, and they certainly would not have won last night without Rose's performance, I think that Mirotic completely changed the entire tenor of the game in the first half with just his physical effort, and then Aaron Brooks kind of did the same thing in the 4rth quarter setting up Rose to close the game.

    From the mutual fund industry I know that first half performance does not guarantee future success, i.e an identical second half, but for some reason Thibs didn't seem to give Mirotic the same chance in the second half as he did in the first. If I am not mistaken Gibson played every minute of the second half, despite being an absolute train wreck in the first half. Even with Noah out Mirotic played less than 20 minutes despite killing it in the first half.

    I don't want to complain too much about any win we get against the western conference, especially against Portland, double especially when Aldridge and Lillard combine for 70, but for my money I would have liked a little more Niko and a little less Gibson and even Gasol who was less than stellar last night.

    It was however, great to see Thibs go with Rose and Brooks to close it out last night, finally realizing that whatever he thinks he gets from Hangdog's D wasn't really being reflected on the scoreboard and then resisting his usual temptation to replace Hangdog with Dunleavy. I guess that it is too much to ask The Leopard for multiple miracles on the same night.

    Jimmy also had a down night(offensively). I wonder is that in any way correlated to Rose's upgraded performance. That would be sad if true long term, and I have a sense that it might be.

    Overall a mostly enjoyable home victory, with 3 of the most important things that are essential to the Bulls long term success happening, Rose being Rose and Mirotic and Brooks surpassing Hangdog as being significant contributors of the bench.

    With the stock market puking(for what seems to be the wrong reasons, oil prices declining) the past couple of weeks I need a little pick me up from the Bulls especially over the weekend.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Rose has been trying to play within the flow of the offense. I don't think you'll see the high 20's FGA games from Rose with this current roster. Although Butler's offensive role will decline as Rose works his way back, I think last night was an exception since Rose was on fire.

  • I still feel like Derrick's continued health is a process that's not completely behind us. There will be minor tweaks, a few games out, etc. But now we know the total game is still there underneath it all and that's the huge relief.

    Loved the minutes where Rose and Brooks shared the floor for a couple reasons. They switched off on PG/off guard duties effortlessly. There was no set in stone role change to SG. And down the stretch you could see that when Aaron ran the offense Rose actually took a few possessions off. In other words, both Derrick and Thibs seem to trust Brooks completely in clutch time. It was a thing of beauty.

    Those were 31 of the most effortless looking points in Rose's career. He had the Tony Parker floater going whenever he wanted it. When he went to the rim he was taking brush contact instead of full on knocks. And on the break I saw a massive change I've been waiting ages for. He pushed the ball, but at a slightly slower pace that allowed his teammates to keep up, or even have a big like Niko out front. Massive adjustment! He only ever went full speed a few seconds at a time instead of going breakneck get to the rim or die trying pace. Result? The whole team was involved in transition instead of watching him go 1 on 3 at the rack. He talked in preseason about playing a smarter game and I saw a lot of that last night. It was really encouraging. And for the first time this season this team looked like the title contenders they're supposed to be. Go Bulls!

  • In reply to Redwhitenblack:

    I completely agree with your comments on Rose playing at a slower speed. I think this a maturation of Rose's game. He is picking select moments to burst, and learning that he rarely needs to use his full burst. I think Rose is learning the "breakneck" aspect of his game is not sustainable, and is actually not even necessary.

  • Well, now that I've read it, I have to totally agree with everything especially the part about Mirotic. While Gibson was practically running away from Aldridge in the first quarter, switching off of him at every opportunity, Mirotic was in his face and physical with him from the moment he entered the game. It didn't help much at first as Aldridge was on fire, but maybe it contributed to slowing him down the rest of the half. The pattern was similar if not as pronounced in the second half as Aldridge scored most of his points in the first 6 minutes of the half, I think he had no fourth quarter points until some free throws in the last 2 minutes.

    Mirotic seemed to change the entire tenor of the game with just his physical effort. His physicality and effort on D and on the boards is off the charts better than anybody expected and only looks to get better and better as he learns his way around the league, including its refs.

    By the way, I told you guys back in the summer before he ever set foot in the U.S that he wasn't just a stretch 4, that it looked like he loved to run the floor and finish on the break, and that he looked like he could beat people off the dribble and get to the rim much better than most big men.

    Although he is a different style/type of player, seeing Mirotic perform as well as he has only makes me more pissed that we didn't draft his country cousin Saric, and then trade for their buddy Vujecic from Orlando. We could have had the all "IC" frontcourt, Shaq would have loved it. O.K, I'm kidding about the Vujecic part if only because Orlando wouldn't have given up on him(even for Noah in my estimation).

    I agree with you about Niko being our best big last night, even if most of his performance came against Portland's second unit. I thought that Taj was a complete train wreck in the first half, physically, as well as mentally and emotionally. He was better in the second half, at least mentally and emotionally.

    I'd say that a big part of the problem for him and even for Gasol is how much size Portland has up front. Aldridge has always looked like the biggest power forward in the NBA. Lopez may not be that talented, but he is a mountain man which seemed to prevent Gasol from going inside against him. Then they come off the bench with Kamen, Leonard and Freeland. That is 5 "7 footers" in today's NBA parlance. Fortunately for us Leonard was a disaster which was a key component in the Bulls turning the game around behind Mirotic's performance in the second quarter. He was so bad that Stott's used Freeland in his place in the second half, maybe a reason why Niko didn't dominate in the second half.

    Like you I am baffled why Thibs gave Niko so few minutes while unnecessarily overplaying Taj. As per usual he overplayed Jimmy, but that's to be expected. Loved the Brooks/Rose combo, a much more interesting look than the usual Hangdog or Dunleavy finishing unit.

    Hopefully Rose's performance on the court is finally regularly going to match the confidence of his performance with his mouth. It certainly gives us a lot more to look forward to going into the Miami game.

  • One thing I've noticed this season is Butler, Hinrich, Gipson and Gasol seem to thrive in slower paced games while Rose, Brooks, Niko, and Noah are best in fast paced games. I think we're going to see a lot of off and on games among the players depending on the match up. It's almost like the Bulls are two different teams in one and can either scale down or scale up to match any team's play style.

    Anyway good job Rose and i really like what i saw from Niko and Brooks paired with Rose. The bulls have so many weapons this year it aint even funny. All this without Noah, defensive player of the year.

  • A very interesting article from 538.com comparing Kobe to MJ. Basically, it isn't even close Jordan trounces Kobe in every category, even adjusting for the differences between the eras that they played in.

    http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/michael-jordan-kobe-bryant/

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Great article!. Thanks for posting the link. It's easy enough to tell how much better Jordan from watching them. The stats show just how spectacular Jordan was.

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