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Date archive for: December 2011

Derrick Rose and Thibodeau Agree, Reigning MVP Must Be More Aggressive

Two days after an uncharacteristically sloppy loss to the Golden State Warriors, Derrick Rose vowed to change his unselfish approach to this season.

In an interview by KC Johnson of the Chicago Tribute, Rose asserted the following:

I just have to go now.  I didn’t know I was playing that unselfish.  I got caught up into getting everybody involved. I got away from doing what I did last year. Thank God I caught it the second game. I’ve been playing too unselfish. I have to always attack. – Derrick Rose

Coach Tom Thibodeau agreed with the change of direction, conceding that the Chicago Bulls are not as effective when Rose plays un-Rose-like.

We’re a lot better when he’s aggressive.  That puts enormous pressure on an opponent’s defense. When he’s attacking, we’re getting easy baskets, we’re getting to the line, he’s getting people into foul trouble. We want him attacking at both ends. We want him attacking on defense also. He’s trying to get others involved early, which is good. But when they put two on the ball, that’s easy offense. – Tom Thibodeau

The Chicago Bulls are still on the road, and will have the opportunity of backing up today’s words against the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night (12/29).

Sacramento Kings, you're on notice.

 

Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose Must Attack the Hoop for Bulls Success in 2012

Derrick Rose‘s last second heroics in yesterday’s 88-87 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers highlighted the fundamental characteristic of the reigning MVP’s game which will be imperative for a successful Chicago Bulls season.

Yet, against a weakened opponent that lacked the services of their starting seven-footer, Andrew Bynum, it was the feature that was most glaringly absent during a large portion of the game which led to a too-close-for-comfort finale.

On paper, the Chicago Bulls boast a robust lineup of youth, experience, hunger and grit.  During the prolonged offseason, they shrewdly chose to keep the nucleus of a 62-win team intact, quietly recruited Rip Hamilton to fill the much-needed shooting guard spot, and reciprocated the production and love that Derrick Rose has shown for the city of Chicago by signing him to a five-year, $94 million extension.

The Lakers, on the other hand, were suffering a multitude of basketball ailments, and were rapidly plummeting in power rankings:   Phil Jackson was no longer head coach, a failed attempt at landing Chris Paul directly led to Lamar Odom’s departure to the Dallas Mavericks, Andrew Bynum was serving a four-game suspension, Kobe Bryant was suffering from a torn hand ligament and, most importantly, Luke Walton was still on the team.

Yesterday’s game should not have been that close given the dichotomy of both programs:  one rebuilding with less talent, and the other surging with an improved roster.

Sloppy play and a lack of offensive production from the rest of the team notwithstanding, the Derrick Rose that led the Bulls to last year’s Eastern Conference championship did not show up.

If you’re a Bulls fan, you were probably salivating at the thought of an aging Derek Fisher, or a weaker Steve Blake, attempting to guard Rose.  I, personally, expected a total obliteration of the Lakers guards, followed by the two-handed jams that Rose is known for.

Instead, we were treated to a passive, three-point shooting Derrick.  The type that scored more than 50 percent of his points from three-point land, and only had a total of five field goals within 16 feet of the basket.

No free-throw attempts.  No easy buckets.  No bravado.

There were no defensive breakdowns caused by overcompensating defenses, nor were any of the Lakers’ bigs in danger of foul trouble.

Yet, when the game was on the line, Rose resorted to instincts and delivered the game-winning bucket by doing what he does best:  driving to the hoop.

The essence of his being, the value of his physical gifts, and the apex of his basketball IQ are most prominently effective in this style of play, and the cumulative effect of these elements is what made the Bulls so dangerous last season.

Had Rose been more aggressive throughout the game, maybe the outcome would have been different and no last-second heroics would have been needed. The Lakers, as presently constructed, were easily ripe for exploitation at the hands of the most explosive point guard in the league, and, unfortunately, he let them off the hook.

While the outcome was favorable and the conclusion exciting, I hope that yesterday’s performance was merely a one-off and that the Derrick Rose we all know resurfaces with the tremendous speed and power we’ve all come to expect of him.

As it applies to the remainder of the season, this bullish feature will be key in improving Chicago’s winning chances, regardless of the opponent.

(Originally written for Bleacher Report)

Worth Watching: Ricky Rubio, Kevin Durant & Russell Westbrook Highlights

In what turned out a highly entertaining display of basketball, the Oklahoma City Thunder pulled off a win against the running Timberwolves.

Check out highlights of Kevin Durant‘s unstoppable style of play, as well as Russell Westbrook seemingly breaking Luke Ridnour’s ankles (he actually tripped over a teammate).

And how about that Ricky Rubio pick-up? He even had Lebron James tweeting about his sharpshooter passing.

Watch and judge for yourself.

NBA Forever – TNT Promo

As if it weren’t enough that we get five games today, TNT decided to ice the cake by releasing this “NBA Forever” video.

The legends of old are placed side-by-side with the current superstars and our hearts are treated to a visual montage of beautiful.

Magic dishing to KobeMichael Jordan fist-bumping Rose.  Now you don’t have to imagine.

Clippers outduel Lakers to Sweep Preseason Bouts

Lob City — More than a moniker, it has become a reality if these preseason games are any indication of what’s in store for the regular season.

The much-anticipated rivalry that sprouted overnight with the arrival of Chris Paul has not disappointed.

Time and again I’ve heard and read basketball analysts mention the electricity at Staples Center for both of these preseason games.  Even if you didn’t have a seat in the stadium you could still feel the energy and the buzz as we watched lob after lob after lob in tonight’s Clippers victory over the Lakers by a score of 108-103.

I don’t quite recall any game that had as many dunks and lobs as tonight’s match.  By the third period, and after the 20 gazillionth Deandre Jordan dunk, I texted a close friend of mine to unofficially confirm my sentiment.  He agreed.  It was almost as if the Clippers were establishing the fact that Blake Griffin wasn’t kidding when he termed the new state of L.A. as lob city, and as if the Lakers weren’t going to give up that title without sending a few lobs of their own.

Andrew Bynum shined for the Lakers with 26 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks.  This led me to rhetorically ask myself, foolishly perhaps, whether this was a ploy to entice the Magic into trading for him (the Dwight Howard dilemma).

The Blake Show.

Not to be outdone, especially in the fourth quarter, Blake Griffin put up 30 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals, a few signature dunks, a hook shot, a couple of scoops, a flop, cross-over handles and a partridge in a pear tree.  The whole versatility of his game was on display — everyone has been put on notice.  As Charlie Murphy would say, “he was incredible!”

The Lakers were without Kobe Bryant due to a wrist injury he suffered on Monday night’s game.  Unlike the first game, they hung around until the end of the game despite not having the services of their superstar.  Similar to the first game, however, they committed 21 turnovers, compared to the Clippers’ six.

Chris Paul had a “quiet” night delivering seven points and 10 assists.  Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler put up eight and 16 points respectively.

It may have been a pre-season game, but ask anybody that was present, including the Lakers who were playing until the last few seconds, if it really meant nothing.  Blake Griffin’s stare-downs of Matt Barnes after a brief scuffle will tell you otherwise.

Los Angeles, get ready for a great season.

Video highlights can be found here, courtesy of nba.com.

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