In his last two games, Derrick Rose outplayed two Western Conference all-stars. He got the best of Chris Paul in New Orleans on Saturday and before that he outscored Utah's Deron Williams.
Next up is a true nemesis, though, Charlotte's D.J. Augustin. The Bobcats are 2-0 against the Bulls this season and Augustin, generously listed at an even 6-feet on the roster, was his team's leading scorer in each game, averaging 18.5 points.
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"I'm not really worried about that," Rose said of the individual matchup. "They beat us both games. We're trying to get some revenge next time we play them and just try to keep it hard-nosed throughout the game."
It's common for NBA teams to struggle in the first game back after a long road trip. When asked how to avoid that pitfall, Rose let down his normally humble demeanor.
"I think lack of energy when you first come back is a big key," he said. "If we come out and play very aggressive and play with a lot of energy, I think that game should be very easy for us.
"Especially because we've been wanting to play them. I think if our energy is high, it should be an easy game."
The Bobcats weren't sure if Augustin would play against the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday because of a wrist injury, but he decided to give it a go.
Second-year forward James Johnson joined the Bulls at the Berto Center, back from an eight-game D-League assignment with the Iowa Energy.
On Feb. 2 in a road game at Rio Grande Valley, Johnson produced an amazing 31 points, 14 rebounds, 7 assists and 6 blocked shots, while hitting 12 of 16 attempts from the field. D-League or not, that's a nice performance.
"We're happy to have him back," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He's done a great job all year for us in practice. His attitude has been terrific. It's an opportunity for him to get the playing time I think he needs to develop."
Overall, Johnson averaged 19.3 points, 8.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.5 blocks. He shot 53.5 percent from the field and 91.8 percent from the foul line. Iowa went 6-2 in the eight games he played.
Asked what the future holds for Johnson, Thibodeau didn't exactly open a spot on the court.
"If we're in the situation where there's injury, foul trouble, I would not hesitate to put him in the game," he said.
Coach Tom Thibodeau, when asked where he plans to spend the upcoming all-star break: "Club Berto." … As of Monday morning, Charlotte was ninth in the Eastern Conference standings, 2 games behind Indiana for the final playoff spot.