Hawks-Bulls Preview

Derrick Rose should be fine. Time will tell if the Chicago Bulls

will be, too.

The NBA’s MVP went through a full practice Tuesday, one day

after twisting his left ankle in the closing seconds of a 103-95

loss to the Atlanta Hawks in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference

semifinals.

Rose expects to be ready for Game 2 on Wednesday.

”It’s fine, it’s fine,” he said at his MVP news conference in

Lincolnshire, Ill., a few miles from the team’s practice facility.

”Actually, the medicine that they gave me was great. I woke up

this morning feeling great, went to practice, worked out after

afterward.”

Coach Tom Thibodeau said his star point guard ”didn’t have any

swelling” and told him he’s fine – encouraging news for the Bulls.

Their performance on Monday night was not.

The top seed after winning a league-leading 62 games, Chicago

delivered a dud in Game 1 after being pushed in a tough five-game

series by Indiana in the opening round. Now, they’re in a hole

against a team that hadn’t won a second-round game since the

1990s.

”A lot of people have written us off even before the series

began, and we’ve been there before,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said.

”Now that we’ve been in these situations enough times, we respond

totally different to them. We don’t listen to what’s being said. We

look at and pay attention to details now a little bit better than

we have in the past. I do believe that this team is a little bit

more hungry.”

The Bulls figured Atlanta was a threat. For one night, anyway,

they were right.

The Bulls’ defense and rebounding that set the tone during the

regular season were nowhere to be found, and the offense never

really found its rhythm with its star delivering an

uncharacteristically passive performance.

Yes, Rose finished with 24 points and 10 assists, but he settled

at times for jumpers rather than his electrifying drives and wound

up going 11 for 27 from the field after missing his first seven

shots.

The scene in the closing seconds sent an extra shiver through

Chicago when Rose came up limping after he stepped on Jamal

Crawford’s foot and twisted the same ankle he sprained against

Indiana.

Asked if he thought about taking Rose out, Thibodeau said, ”No.

I’ve seen too many comebacks.”

It was hardly an MVP performance on a night when news broke that

he was getting the award. That was hardly shocking the way he

dominated during the season, but his showing in Game 1 was a bigger

surprise.

Asked if he could remember the last time he didn’t attempt a

free throw, Rose said, ”Probably my rookie year or something like

that.”

Actually, it happened three times during the season. Then again,

a short memory might not be such a bad thing for him in this

case.

Rose was being guarded primarily by Jeff Teague, an occasional

starter who played a total of 9 minutes over two appearances in the

opening round against Orlando. He started because Kirk Hinrich is

likely out for the series with a hamstring strain.

Rose didn’t take advantage of Teague, who had 10 points, five

assists and only one turnover.

”I don’t know how much talking the coaches did to him, but I

know I was in his (ear), letting him know how important this moment

was and how he had to seize it,” Josh Smith said. ”If he had to

get on anybody, police anybody, do it. We’ll respect what he’s

saying because he’s the floor general.”

Joe Johnson scored 34 points, hitting all five 3-point attempts.

Jamal Crawford poured in 22 and the Hawks made 40 of 78 shots

against one of the league’s stingiest defenses.

They also outrebounded Chicago 38-37 and outhustled the Bulls

for loose balls. Put simply, they looked like a team that belonged

and not one that came in with an 0-15 second-round streak.

”We’ve gotten to the second round in the past and pretty much

gotten embarrassed,” Johnson said. ”It was a sense of pride and a

sense of urgency that we had last night. We’re going to continue to

try to play with the energy and intensity we had in Game One, we’re

going to bring it to Game Two.”

They’re also bracing for more from Rose.

”I’m sure he’s going to come out with a lot more aggression,”

Johnson said. ”We’re going to be prepared for it, we’re going to

try to do whatever it takes to just kind of slow down. It’s going

to be tough.”