Bulls 108, Timberwolves 91
Derrick Rose and Kevin Love have played against each other since
their days in AAU ball, worked out together in a steamy Los Angeles
gym over the summer, and became fast friends as they’ve emerged as
the faces of their respective franchises.
Individually, they are on similar paths. In their third seasons,
both have had career years, with Rose emerging as a front-runner
for the MVP award in Chicago and Love leading the league in
rebounding in Minnesota.
Their professional paths are getting further apart by the day,
and Love knows it.
Rose had 23 points and 10 assists in three quarters and the
Bulls blew out the Timberwolves 108-91 on Wednesday night.
Carlos Boozer had 24 points and 14 rebounds and the Bulls
recorded 31 assists on 41 field goals to stay 2 1/2 games ahead of
Boston and Miami in the race for the top seed in the Eastern
”They’re all on the same page, everybody,” Love said. ”When
they break from the huddle, everybody’s in. You can tell everybody
has the utmost respect for each other and they’re all in it to win
it. In that regard, I envy that. I salivate for that. I like that a
Love had 16 points and nine rebounds, but was limited to 27
minutes in his first game back from a strained left groin. The
Timberwolves (17-58) lost their eighth straight game and have sunk
to the bottom of the West.
The Bulls, who were missing starting center Joakim Noah because
of a sprained right ankle, bounced back in a big way after a
humbling loss to Philadelphia.
Two nights after the 76ers snapped Chicago’s 14-game home
winning streak, the Bulls attacked the Wolves from the start,
playing a beautifully unselfish brand of basketball that was on an
entirely different level than the home team.
”I think we’re getting better, almost every game,” Rose said.
”Last game of course we didn’t do it, but tonight we came out and
played aggressive, played with an edge.”
Rose had 13 points and five assists in the first quarter –
Wolves point guard Luke Ridnour had 11 points and two assists in
the entire game – and Chicago had 17 assists on 22 baskets in the
The ball movement created wide-open shot after wide-open shot, a
cohesive unit dominating a group of individuals in every way, shape
”That’s a team right there,” Wolves guard Wayne Ellington
said. ”Them guys play together, man. All the way around. They play
together, communicate. They do it the right way. That’s something
we’ve got to work toward.”
The Bulls shot 50 percent for the game, pulling away in the
third quarter with a 3 by Rose and a drive-and-dish from Luol Deng
to Boozer that gave them an 86-62 lead.
Ever the demanding coach, Tom Thibodeau stayed on his team to
the end, even calling a timeout with a 20-point lead with six
minutes to play when he saw a defensive breakdown. But, for the
most part, he was pleased with the difference he saw in his team
from the start.
”I thought our shootaround was intense, I thought it was
serious,” Thibodeau said. ”I thought our locker room was serious,
and I thought the start of our start of the game was serious. …
We established a defensive mindset, a defensive game plan, and I
think that got us going.”
Rose’s blend of strength, quickness and pure speed has proven
too much for the league to handle, and his selfless attitude has
transformed the Bulls from a middling playoff team to a legitimate
contender and the current No. 1 seed in the East.
”You look at what he’s done with his team, it’s tough to argue
D-Rose isn’t the MVP,” Love said.
He is also exactly what the Timberwolves are missing. Love is a
wonderful supporting player, but they need a leader, a superstar, a
competitor like Rose if they are ever going to lift themselves from
the Western Conference basement.
While Rose had the Bulls humming, with the ball moving, the
defense squeezing and the jumpers falling, the Timberwolves wilted
into a one-on-one mess.
They had just 12 assists for the game and too often settled for
jumpers or wild drives to the basket.
”For whatever reason, it wasn’t there tonight,” Wolves coach
Kurt Rambis said. ”We didn’t bring the effort and intensity and
focus for the vast majority of the ballgame.”
Notes: Technically, two of Love’s 16 points weren’t his. Bulls
forward Taj Gibson knocked the ball into his own basket with just
over eight minutes to play in the second quarter, and Love was
credited as the nearest player to the ball. … Veteran Kurt Thomas
started for Noah and hit his first three jumpers. He finished with
six points and eight rebounds. … Timberwolves C Nikola Pekovic
missed his second straight game with a hip injury.