Rose matches Griffin, ends Clippers' streak
Just as they did last week with Orlando's Dwight Howard, the Bulls carried the confidence they wouldn't be beat by one player.
Los Angeles Clippers rookie sensation Blake Griffin put on a show in the first half, then virtually disappeared after halftime.
On the first stop of their five-game road trip, the Bulls ended the Clippers' nine-game home winning streak with a convincing 106-88 victory at the Staples Center.
By halftime, Griffin was on pace for a 50-point night. But he scored just 7 futile points in the second half to finish with 32. Bulls guard Derrick Rose was solid all game long and matched Griffin's 32 points.
The Bulls (34-14) won their sixth straight and improved to 20 games above .500 for the first time since finishing the 1997-98 season with 62 victories.
Not only had the Clippers (19-29) won nine straight at home, they'd gone 14-7 since Dec. 15. Early in that run, they beat the Bulls by a point at the United Center.
Derrick Rose was locked in from the beginning, when he knocked down 3 straight 3-point baskets in the first quarter. Rose hit 11 of 18 shots from the field, to go with 4 baskets from 3-point range, and added 11 assists. The pro-Bulls contingent in the seats serenaded Rose with the usual "MVP" chants throughout the night.
"The way he started off the game set the tone for us," coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters after the game. "Very aggressive, pick and roll, running the team, I thought aggressive defensively. I thought he did a lot of good things. When he's going like that, he lifts the whole team."
Luol Deng had another big night with 26 points. Carlos Boozer added 16 points and 10 rebounds. Taj Gibson, who played his college basketball nearby at USC, brought 12 rebounds and 9 point off the bench.
As a team, the Bulls knocked down 12-of-26 attempts from 3-point range. They shot 51.3 percent overall and outrebounded the Clippers 41-30.
Before leaving town on Tuesday, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau forecast his strategy for dealing with Griffin. Thibodeau said the Bulls would be careful not to give too much help and let his teammates have big nights.
A similar strategy was used last Friday when Howard piled up 40 points, but no other Orlando player scored more than 11 and the Bulls beat the Magic 99-90.
The first half featured a nice Griffin highlight package, including a long alley-oop dunk in which he outjumped Bulls forward Kyle Korver and completed a 3-point play.
Griffin also drew a flagrant foul against Boozer that didn't seem to be much more than an ordinary infraction. Griffin got plenty of calls, but hit just 4 of 13 free throws. Kurt Thomas and Thibodeau each picked up technical fouls for arguing calls given to the second-year rookie from Oklahoma.
The Bulls led 12 points midway through the second quarter, before the Clippers closed with 55-49 at intermission.
The visitors opened the third quarter with a 7-0 run and were never seriously threatened. Griffin didn't score his first basket of the second half until the 2:53 mark of the third quarter.
Leading 82-71 at the end of three, the Bulls tacked on the first 7 points of the fourth quarter to stretch the lead to 18.
The Bulls got a nice effort from the bench. C.J. Watson joined Gibson by scoring 9 points while Kyle Korver had 8.
The Clippers did get three other players into double figures, led by Ryan Gomes with 16 points. Clippers leading scorer Eric Gordon is out with a wrist injury.
The Bulls will get two days off before playing at Golden State on Saturday.
• Follow Mike's Bulls reports via Twitter@McGrawDHBulls, and check out his All Bull blog at dailyherald.com.