Chicago Sun-Times

Rose epic in win over Paul, Clippers

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LOS ANGELES --- Derrick Rose downplayed his individual matchup with Chris Paul before the game but admitted afterwards that he thrived off the competition during one of the best individual performance of his career.

Rose had 29 points, 16 assists and eight rebounds as the Bulls ended their season-opening four-game road trip with a 114-101 win over the Clippers on Friday night. The victory gives them three wins in four games heading into Saturday's home opener against the Memphis Grizzlies at the United Center.

"When you're playing you can definitely feel it," Rose said. "You're just trying to win, whatever it takes to win, both teams were making great shots, great hustle plays. Thank God we won the game."

"It's going to be Lob City." That's how Blake Griffin reacted to news that the Clippers had acquired Chris Paul, for reasons that became obvious to the Bulls seconds into the game, when Griffin blew past Joakim Noah, who slipped, for the first of what became a parade of dunks by Griffin and co-pilot DeAndre Jordan.

In the end, however, it was substance over style, Chicago tough over L.A. glamour as Rose turned in one of the epic performance to ruin the Clippers home opener.

"He did it all tonight and Chris Paul is as tough of a matchup as you can get," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "It was like two heavyweights going at it."

Paul finished with 15 points, 14 assists and four rebounds. Blake Griffin had a game-high 34 points and 13 rebounds for Los Angeles.

"Derrick is just a handful and we all know that," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. "I don't think we ganged up on him enough. He got too many free throws. He hit some tough shots in the fourth quarter --- stepping behind, hitting some threes. When he does that it puts a lot more pressure on you."

Caron Butler added 16, Mo Williams 13 and DeAndre Jordan 12 for the Clippers.

Luol Deng and Joakim Noah had 19 apiece for the Bulls while Rip Hamilton had 16 and Carlos Boozer 10. Noah also had eight rebounds and was 9 of 10 from the free-throw line.

"You see what Derrick did tonight, it was probably one of the best performances I've ever been a part of," Noah said. "The way he competed tonight was pretty inspiring."

"Competing" was the right word. Rose was doing just that on both ends of the floor.

Rose scored 11 in the first, zero in the second, six in the third and 12 in the fourth as the Bulls pulled away. He also made 10 of 11 free throws.

"We're hopeful he does that every night," Thibodeau said. "The last two games he has been very aggressive and our team has played with a lot more force offensively. We have to have force defensively to get to where we want to be."

Rose started this road trip struggling to find his offensive game and ended with what even he admitted might be his best all-around performance, especially when you consider the defensive job he did on Paul.

"Me attacking first opens up everybody else on the court," he said. "The first game I was basically out on the perimeter just passing the ball and settling for jump shots. The Golden State game was like that, too. Since then, I've been pushing the ball, trying to get to the line, I'm a pretty good free-throw shooter and just have to take my time when I'm up there."

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This page contains a single entry by Neil Hayes published on December 31, 2011 1:12 AM.

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