Indiana’s Jones slows Rose

Not long ago, Dahntay Jones was one of the most respected

perimeter defenders in the NBA.

Jones helped the Denver Nuggets reach the Western Conference

finals in 2009, making a name for himself by frustrating New

Orleans’ Chris Paul and Los Angeles’ Kobe Bryant with his effective

and sometimes rough play. It was the main reason Indiana Pacers

president Larry Bird signed him after that season.

After sitting on the bench the first two games against the

Chicago Bulls, Jones again has been called upon to make life

miserable for a superstar. His work against MVP front-runner

Derrick Rose is among the reasons the Pacers have extended the

first-round playoff series.

The Bulls can advance with a victory in Game 5 at the United

Center on Tuesday, but Jones’ defense has helped give the Pacers

hope.

In Game 3, Jones played 16 minutes while sharing the job of

defending Rose with rookie Paul George. The Bulls won that game

88-84, but Rose shot 4 for 18 from the field and acknowledged Jones

was a difference maker.

”It changed the game,” Rose said between Games 3 and 4.

”That’s what we don’t want to happen – guys coming off the bench

to change the whole game, and that’s what he did.”

In Game 4, Jones’ minutes increased to 22, and Rose scored 15

points on 6-for-22 shooting in the Pacers’ 89-84 victory. Rose

turned his left ankle in the first quarter of that game and was

slowed, but either way, Indiana’s aggressive defense against Rose

the past two games has thrown Chicago’s offense out of whack.

”I think a lot of it has to do with how they’re trapping

Derrick,” Chicago’s Kyle Korver said. ”We’re not getting into our

sets very quick. It kind of forces us. We see the shot clock’s at

seven or eight, and it’s like we can’t run our whole play now.

We’ve got to get into it a little bit quicker, and that’s something

we’ve talked about a lot.”

Rose will play Tuesday night, and Jones doesn’t expect the

injury to be a factor.

”I expect a full-force Derrick Rose,” he said. ”I don’t

expect anything but his full effort.”

Rose averaged 37.5 points the first two games of the series

while Jones sat on interim coach Frank Vogel’s bench.

For a player with Jones’ reputation as a shutdown defender, it

was hard to watch.

”Very tough, but I had to play my role, trust that Coach has

the right philosophy and be ready when called upon,” Jones said.

”That’s what I was trying to do. I thought he was going to call me

the first few games and he didn’t, so just stay positive and be

ready when he does.”

Jones said Rose offers a unique challenge.

”Derrick Rose is one of the fastest people in the game, so you

have to be ready for him in transition and guard him because he’s

strong going to the basket as well,” he said.

Rose has forced Vogel to adopt a team approach. Jones is

6-foot-6 and a muscular 210 pounds. The 6-8 George has great

leaping ability, long arms and good recovery speed.

”Me and Paul just offer two different looks,” Jones said.

”Constant energy, and just try to wear him down a little bit, make

it tough for him through four quarters instead of just letting him

come to the court and run his offense.”

Vogel has been complimentary of George’s effort despite the

scoring totals in the first two games, saying he made Rose work for

his points and forced him into more turnovers than usual.

Now, George has some much appreciated help.

”Dahntay has been the guy to really put his body on him and

really get him frustrated and wear him down,” George said. ”Now,

he’s a little tired and a little weary. Now, he’s taking 3-point

shots and pull-ups instead of going to the rim. That’s where my

length has been tremendous for me.”

Vogel said Brandon Rush might see some time guarding Rose as

well.

Jones got off to a promising start in 2009, scoring in double

figures in 14 of the team’s first 16 games. His minutes diminished

later on, and he barely played under coach Jim O’Brien earlier this

season.

Jones returned to the rotation when Vogel took over. He played

double-figures minutes just twice under O’Brien, but played 10

minutes in Vogel’s first game, and played at least 10 minutes in

all but two games the rest of the regular season.

Jones averaged 6.3 points per game and shot 47 percent from the

field during the regular season. On Feb. 11, he scored all 19 of

his points in the fourth quarter, and the Pacers pulled out a

116-105 come-from-behind victory over the Minnesota

Timberwolves.

”It’s just a matter of opportunities,” he said. ”The coaches

have given me a chance to be effective on the offensive end. He

(Vogel) runs plays for me. So, I’m just trying to move the ball and

make the right play and just bring a spark off the bench, whether

it’s defensive or offensive.”