Bulls-Timberwolves Preview

While Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls are leading the Eastern

Conference, their intensity admittedly hasn’t been there early in

the last two games.

After falling behind by double digits for a second straight

game, the Bulls look to get off to a faster start Wednesday night

when they visit the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Chicago (53-20), trying to hold off Miami and Boston for the

East’s top seed, had its four-game winning streak snapped with a

97-85 home loss to Philadelphia on Monday. The Bulls, who had won

12 of 13, were outscored 27-13 in the first quarter and trailed the

entire game.

Rose scored 24 of his 31 points in the second half, during which

the Bulls cut a 19-point deficit to four, but the MVP candidate had

a career-high 10 turnovers and committed two in the final two


“We came out sluggish. This one is definitely on me,” Rose said.

“Just me taking care of the ball and missing shots that I normally

hit. … Just careless, some of them was me driving and kicking the

ball off my foot.”

It was the second straight game the Bulls fell behind early,

having trailed Milwaukee by seven midway through the first quarter

but rallying from 15 down in the second half to win 95-87.

Chicago is second in the league in scoring defense, allowing

92.1 points per game, but has given up a combined 101 first-half

points in its last two.

“The last couple of games, the first half we haven’t played

defense,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We have to take a look at how

we approach the game, how we practice and make the corrections real

fast. Things can change fast in this league.”

Rose and the Bulls had no such first-half problems in their only

matchup with the Timberwolves (17-57) this season. Chicago led

58-37 at halftime en route to a 113-82 victory Dec. 11. Rose had 21

points in 30 minutes, shooting 5 of 6 from 3-point range.

Minnesota has lost seven straight but has been competitive

against playoff-bound opponents. The Timberwolves have dropped

their last three by an average of 6.3 points while losing to

Dallas, Oklahoma City and Boston.

Minnesota trailed 32-13 after the first quarter against the

Celtics on Sunday but came back to take the lead in the fourth

before losing 85-82.

“I feel like we showed a lot of character,” said Michael

Beasley, who had 28 points and 10 rebounds. “We could’ve just let

them beat us by 60 points. But we fought back and gave ourselves a

chance to win the last two minutes. Of course we wanted to win, but

it didn’t turn out that way. A lot of guys played well, and we

learned a lot from this game.”

It was the first time in eight games the Timberwolves limited a

team to fewer than 100 points. They had been 5-0 when holding the

opposition under 90.

Kevin Love missed his third straight game with a strained left

groin, but said Tuesday he expects to return for this game.

Minnesota has lost three straight in this series after winning

16 of 20.