By Mike McGraw
Derrick Rose was angry Monday against the New York Knicks. So angry he might have gone a little bit "Linsane" in the fourth quarter.
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OK, that pun was completely unnecessary, but the meaning is accurate. On a few occasions, Rose showed his frustration about not getting foul calls on drives to the basket.
On one play in the third quarter, he drove through a sea of arms, caught his own miss, didn't get a call and actually stopped playing for a second as he pleaded with the referee.
"I've got to be the only superstar in the league who's going through what I'm going through right now, but I can't say too much about it," Rose said in the locker room.
As they say, don't get mad, get even. Midway through the final quarter, Rose threw a pass to center Joakim Noah. When Knicks guard Jeremy Lin turned his head for a second, Rose bolted down the lane, took the return pass and threw down a high-rise tomahawk that punctuated the Bulls' 104-99 victory at the United Center.
"I just was mad, I guess," Rose said of his highlight slam. "I don't usually dunk it. It takes a lot for me to dunk. I guess I was mad. After that, I didn't know what was going on. I probably blacked out a little bit. I was just mad I wasn't getting the calls."
In the final analysis, Rose did what needed to be done. He produced 32 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds, hitting 12 of 29 shots from the field and 6 of 9 free throws.
Asked if he was fired up to play against Lin, who became a sudden sensation during the past month, Rose didn't try to hide his feelings.
"Definitely. Who's not right now?" Rose asked. "He's a good player. He's playing well for his team. When I'm out there, me against him, no matter who I'm playing against, I'm trying to win the matchup."
Lin was booed frequently, and when he went to the foul line in the fourth quarter, the home fans worked up a loud chant of "overrated."
All things considered, though, this was a respectable performance by the second-year guard from Harvard. He finished with 15 points, 8 assists, 3 blocks and 3 steals.
"He's good," Rose said. "He didn't turn the ball over that much. He's playing with a lot of confidence. His teammates believe in him, and you can go so far in this league when you have your teammates behind you."
New York (18-24) lost its sixth game in a row but put up a good fight against the Bulls (35-9), who played without starters Luol Deng and Richard Hamilton. The visitors were as close as 3 points with about four minutes remaining behind Carmelo Anthony (21 points) and Amare Stoudemire (20).
"I thought our defense could have been better," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We have to get better, though. We're not playing well."
The Knicks tried to shade one of their big men toward Rose at all times, and the Bulls took advantage by pounding the offensive boards. They won the second-chance points 24-6.
Taj Gibson dominated the hustle plays, finishing with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Noah, back from an illness, had 12 points and 10 boards. Rookie Jimmy Butler played a season-high 29 minutes and contributed a nice follow slam with 3:30 left.
"Like Thibs says, you give yourself a chance to win when you defend and rebound," Gibson said. "We're a good rebounding team, and that's what we capitalize on. We try to get every 50-50 ball and just play with a lot of energy."
This game stacked up as a potential first-round playoff preview, but after the loss, New York fell into a tie for eighth place with Milwaukee, while Cleveland is a half-game back.