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updated: 4/16/2011 5:36 PM

Rose takes a licking but keeps on ticking

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  • The Bulls' Derrick Rose gets fouled going to the basket Saturday against the Pacers.

    The Bulls' Derrick Rose gets fouled going to the basket Saturday against the Pacers.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer


If Derrick Rose isn't busy tonight, he might want to return to the United Center.

The Bulls' point guard could demonstrate to the Blackhawks how to respond to physical play.

OK, so basketball isn't hockey. However, the Pacers did try to make it look like it was Saturday afternoon.

The rap against the Hawks has been that they didn't respond to the Canucks' physical play while going down 2-0 in their best-of-seven playoff series at Vancouver.

Nobody could accuse Rose of backing down after Saturday's 104-99 victory over Indiana in the first game of their first-round playoff series.

The Pacers tried to play the part of the Canucks. They banged Rose around. The difference is that he wobbled like an inflatable Benny the Bull, maintained his bearings and kept on keeping on.

Mostly Rose kept on keeping on to the foul line, sinking 19 of 21 free throws on the way to 39 points.

First of all, let's not kid ourselves that the physical play was as violent as 20 years ago, when NBA teams had enforcers with nicknames like McFilthy and McNasty.

Entire teams like the Detroit Bad Boys and New York Knickerknockers would try to menace opponents into uncontrollable weeping.

Indiana isn't all that threatening any more than Vancouver plays as roughly as the Original Six were while wielding sticks in the NHL.

Indiana's Tyler Hansbrough and Jeff Foster certainly aren't Dennis Rodman and Bill Laimbeer trying to make Scottie Pippen turn over his milk money or Anthony Mason and Xavier McDaniel trying to make Michael Jordan park in a handicapped spot.

The rules won't allow the roughest stuff in either the NBA or NHL anymore. Still, a more humane form of intimidation remains and Rose has indicated all season that he isn't about to be intimidated.

In the first half of Game 1, Rose retaliated verbally after Foster applied a hard foul to his upper body (excuse the hockey term, please).

In the second half, Hansbrough applied a harder foul. Bulls teammate Luol Deng got in Hansbrough's face, Indiana teammate Danny Granger got in Deng's face.

By traditional standards this was so mild it couldn't even be referred to as mumble turning to grumble.

It certainly never threatened to escalate to rumble.

Those Bulls-Pistons, Bulls-Knicks and throw in Bulls-76ers series always seemed on the verge of a riot. The current Bulls-Pacers' is like a pillow fight by comparison.

Anyway as all of us around here know, Derrick Rose is one tough basketball player. He's Chicago Public League tough, Park District playground tough and NBA in the Neanderthal era tough.

No, he isn't Sugar Ray Rose but he is fearless enough to withstand what the Pacers are dishing at him and to move on to the next possession.

Who can blame the Pacers by the way? Rose doesn't play fair, not with all his athlesticism, strength and creativity.

"How do you guard that?" Pacers' head coach Frank Vogel wondered out loud.

Nobody has been able to this season, so the Pacers and playoff opponents down the line shouldn't be expected to play fair either.

"I think with me working out with weights, I should be fine," Rose said and we'll take his word for it until the time he doesn't get up.

Meanwhile, tonight we'll see how the Blackhawks respond after first being battered and then being beaten by the Canucks in Vancouver.