No surprise: Rose stars in Bulls' clincher
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Derrick Rose, born in 1988, is old enough to remember the championship Bulls led by Michael Jordan, but he admittedly wasn't paying close attention to the nuances of that team.
"When I was that young, I was just happy we were winning," Rose said. "I wasn't a fan like that where I knew how many games (a series went) or whatever. If anything, I was in the park playing myself."
Well, here's a quick primer for Rose: This is exactly how Jordan's Bulls handled themselves in the playoffs.
When an early-round series reached Game 5, they didn't mess around. Those Bulls took care of business on their home court with absolute certainty and rarely went to the wire in a closeout game.
Rose shook off a sprained left ankle to produce 25 points on Tuesday as the Bulls eliminated the once-pesky Indiana Pacers 116-89 at the United Center. He did such a nice job of putting this one away, he was able to sit out the final 11:30.
"Their team and our team are totally different," Rose said of the championship-era Bulls. "We just know it's hard getting rid of teams. That's the hardest game and we just tried to come out and try to be aggressive from the jump ball."
Rose seemed to walk gingerly at times early in the game, but claimed that was only because he was worried about twisting the ankle again. Running was not an issue.
The Bulls had great energy at the start and needed less than three minutes to open their first double-digit lead of the entire series.
But with Rose, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer all in early foul trouble, Indiana closed within 61-57 on a Tyler Hansbrough 3-point play midway through the third quarter.
At that point, coach Tom Thibodeau figured there was no sense being cautious and sent Rose back onto the floor just three minutes after he came out with 4 fouls. In the next three minutes, Rose drained 3 baskets from 3-point range and found enough liftoff to block a dunk attempt by 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert.
Once Indiana got within 4 points, the Bulls finished the third quarter on a 23-8 run and the game was never in doubt during the fourth quarter.
Asked if he was surprised Thibodeau sent him back onto the floor with 4 fouls so quickly, Rose said no, just happy.
"I told him I wasn't going to foul anymore," Rose said.
"We felt like it was going the wrong way," Thibodeau explained. "Derrick can play with fouls. He hit those big shots and basically took it over from the middle of the third quarter. That was huge for us."
Rose wasn't involved in any rough fouls in Game 5, though plenty of other Bulls were. With a chance to reflect on the series, Rose simply shrugged off Indiana's physical play with an answer that should warm the heart of any Bulls fan.
"They tried their hardest to make it hard for me to get to the basket with the hard fouls," Rose said. "As a basketball player, you get used to it. That happened my whole life where you get hit hard. What makes them mad is when you continue to go in there. That's what I'm going to continue to do."
Indiana's Frank Vogel, technically still the team's interim coach, talked about how much he enjoyed playing the chess game with Thibodeau. He finally admitted only so much can be done against a game piece like Rose.
"He's spectacular," Vogel said. "I wish him all the best. He's a great kid. He's a great player. I don't if anybody has an answer to try to stop him. We did our best. We fought hard. He was too much for us."
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