Derrick Rose showed his relevance among all the talk about clutch and doing what’s best for your team, hitting a game winning shot at the buzzer of Brandon Jennings, as the Chicago Bulls beat the Milwaukee Bucks 106-104 to improve their NBA-best record to 33-8.
It was the Bulls’ eighth straight win, the longest winning streak in the league right now, with Rose headlining the road show which kind of felt like a home game. There were plenty of Bulls jerseys around the Bradley Center, where the Bucks fell to 9-9 this season at home. Life without Andrew Bogut isn’t easy, and the Bucks have failed to make the leap they were supposed to these past couple of seasons.
Rose finished with 30 points and 11 assists, two rebounds shy of a triple double and overcoming a rough shooting day (8-22) with a perfect night from line (11-11). It was the third time this season he has gone for at least 30-10, averaging 22.7 points and 7.8 assists so far this season.
Brandon Jennings, who hung in the air with Rose as he hit his game winning jumper, was simply awful for the Bucks, who hung in there till the very end. He finished with 11 points while making only 4 of his 18 shots. The Bucks were led by Ersan Ilyasova, finishing with 32 points and 10 rebounds, as Drew Gooden added 27.
Joakim Noah scored 20 points for only the second time this season, finishing with his almost mandatory double double, 10 rebounds this time, averaging 10.4 this season. The entire Bulls team shot very well, 51.8% from the field, with just Derrick Rose struggling and probably forcing it a bit too much. Kobe Bryant rubbing off on the MVP? Probably not, as Rose doesn’t tend to be this trigger-happy. Anyhow, he made up for it in the final seconds.
Unlike the Lakers, who have a huge advantage offensively against pretty much every team with their two big men, the Bulls aren’t that reliant on Joakim Noah. Carlos Boozer? I don’t think anyone believes he’ll be consistent 20-10 guy again. Something about mental strength and attitude, which usually shows up on defense. Luol Deng hides away from taking shots during certain games, looking almost pleased about being a defensive stopper.
The Bucks did a good job, taking a page out of the Heat’s book on how to handle Derrick Rose. They forced him to grab the ball away from the basket, and Rose settled too often from jump shots and three pointers, going o-5 from beyond the arc. He has improved his outside game, not stuck in the same place Rajon Rondo still is, but sometimes it’s better to keep pushing inside. Rose does that better than any other point guard in the league.
As for the Bulls, there’s no doubt who should take their last shot. When a 1 on 1 opportunity is presented like the one the Bucks offered them on the final possession, it’s an easy choice to make. Always go with Rose to beat his defender.