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updated: 1/19/2012 8:44 PM

Cavs rookie Irving makes big splash

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  • The Bulls' C.J. Watson fires in 2 of his 23 points against the Suns on Tuesday at the United Center. The Bulls won 118-97 and are on the road tonight at Cleveland.

    The Bulls' C.J. Watson fires in 2 of his 23 points against the Suns on Tuesday at the United Center. The Bulls won 118-97 and are on the road tonight at Cleveland.
    Associated Press


No one is sure if Derrick Rose will play Friday against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

If he does play, it will be a chance to face the league's latest point guard phenom.

Cleveland's Kyrie Irving is the third point guard in the past four years to be chosen with the No. 1 overall draft pick, joining Rose and Washington's John Wall.

Irving, who was out with an injury during most of his freshman season at Duke, looks like the early favorite for rookie of the year, averaging 17.7 points and 5.2 assists.

"I think you can make a case that they're the most improved team in the league," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said of the Cavs. "They're 6-7 with a very tough early season schedule, a lot of road games. They play extremely hard. Irving is going to be spectacular."

Asked to expand on his spectacular assessment, Thibodeau continued on for a while.

"His approach, demeanor, the way he does everything," he said. "He uses both hands, he finishes strong, he can shoot, plays with poise. He reads screens extremely well. He plays with pace. He's very, very impressive. And the intensity in which he plays, I think it helps set the tone for the team."

Thibs sees right stuff:

On the topic of the Bulls posting the league's best record so far, without the benefit of much practice time, coach Tom Thibodeau deflected the credit.

"I think we're fortunate to have the right guys," he said. "Their attitude and approach is great. They come in each and every day. They give you everything they have. Their concentration level has been very, very good.

"I think they've prepared themselves well for the season. Without us having contact with them, they did a great job of conditioning in the offseason. I think it's a credit to them."

Rip causes point surge:

Maybe it's too soon to develop any firm conclusions, but the Bulls have averaged 103 points in the six games Richard Hamilton has played, compared to 90.3 points in the 10 contests he missed with a groin injury.

"It gives you another primary option," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "You have Derrick (Rose), then you have Carlos (Boozer) in the low post and pick-and-roll, now you've got catch-and-shoot with Rip. It gives you more things that have to be guarded."

Rose rises in popularity:

In the latest NBA all-star balloting, Derrick Rose has received the third-most votes of any player, trailing only Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard. Rose is a lock to start at guard with Miami's Dwyane Wade.

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