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updated: 1/2/2012 8:13 PM

Rose, Bulls off and running in new season

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  • Derrick Rose is creating fastbreak opportunities, his Bulls teammates feed off his energy, and defenses are having trouble keeping up.

      Derrick Rose is creating fastbreak opportunities, his Bulls teammates feed off his energy, and defenses are having trouble keeping up.
    Associated Press

 
 

Coach Tom Thibodeau repeatedly has asked Derrick Rose to push the ball, and the MVP has delivered.

During 82 games last season, the Bulls scored 30 or more fastbreak points three times. In five games so far this season, they've already done it twice.

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Rose was relentless on the break during Sunday's 40-point win over Memphis. He hit full speed on many occasions, which is a sight to behold.

"He's a blur out there," teammate John Lucas III said Monday at the Berto Center. "Sometimes we'll sit on the bench and we'll turn our head for one second and he's already at the rim. I think he's the hardest person to stay in front of in the league -- by far."

The benefits of Rose creating fastbreak chances are obvious. His teammates seem to feed off Rose's energy, and defenses have trouble keeping up.

Even while shooting less than 30 percent from the field in the first quarter, the Bulls still led the Grizzlies 25-12. The home team was credited with 33 fastbreak points and produced the same number last week at Sacramento.

"It's super fun," Rose said. "It makes me feel like back in college, when we were running a lot. That's my type of game -- running, pick-and-roll, getting guys easy baskets. It makes the game easier because we've got a lot of guys who can shoot the ball."

The five times the Bulls ran up more than 30 fastbreak points the past two seasons, they won four of the games and created at least a 30-point margin of victory three times.

The quality of opponent is clearly a factor. Memphis was missing point guard Mike Conley (ankle) and lost top scorer Zach Randolph (knee) late in the first quarter.

But, as Thibodeau believes, good things happen when Rose turns on the jets.

"We definitely want to play at a fast pace," center Joakim Noah said after Sunday's win. "We have the fastest point guard in the world, so why not utilize his speed?"

Is there any downside to playing fast, though? Any chance Rose will get worn out by running full speed? In contrast, Miami stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade can coast through parts of games and let the other take over.

Rose's early energy paid off in more rest, because he sat out the entire fourth quarter Sunday when the Bulls opened up such a gaping advantage. Rose has been feeling some tendinitis in his right shin, but the condition clearly isn't slowing him down.

"I'm fine," he said. "I told you I've been working on my conditioning ever since the off-season. I think it's paying off. I've been lifting a lot so that my body can withstand these games and I feel great."

When he returned from the lockout, Rose shared stories about how he did more running during the extended break, even jogging in a Jacuzzi while vacationing with his mom in Bora Bora.

"It's the way he's played his whole life, so it's not going to wear him out," Thibodeau said. "He's in great shape. He's prepared himself for an NBA season. He's a consummate pro.

"We want to try to get as many easy baskets as we can. Then we have to have the discipline to run for 48 minutes. We can't stop after half a game. I think it's important to run late, also."

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