Rose adds passing to his attack

  • Bulls' Joakim Noah (13) and Derrick Rose (1) celebrate a late basket by Rose against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second half Saturday in Milwaukee.

    Bulls' Joakim Noah (13) and Derrick Rose (1) celebrate a late basket by Rose against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second half Saturday in Milwaukee. Associated Press

Updated 3/27/2011 8:22 AM

MILWAUKEE -- The worst nightmare of every other coach in the NBA has come true.

Teams have tried to make a living out of sending two or three defenders at Derrick Rose in an attempt to keep him out of the lane and off the scoreboard.


Maybe it's too soon to say nothing can stop Rose, but Saturday night's game in Milwaukee illustrated how the triple-team strategy is becoming obsolete.

The Bulls trailed by as many as 15 points, but Rose responded to the Bucks' defensive imbalance with a flurry of passes that delivered a 95-87 comeback victory before a very pro-Bulls crowd at the Bradley Center.

"I'm learning every game," Rose said in the locker room. "I knew early in the year when they were double-teaming me, I was forcing shots. Forcing them just to be forcing them. But now I'm getting into the lane, feeding the guys that are open and just leaving it up to them."

Rose finished with 30 points and a career-high 17 assists. He also saved his best for last. During the Bulls' game-ending 12-0 run, he knocked down 3 straight shots, added a couple of free throws and found teammate Joakim Noah for a fastbreak dunk.

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"It's really exciting," Noah said. "He's playing his best basketball since he's been here. He's playing with a lot of swag. We fed off that. When you have your star player playing at that level, it just makes you want to go to bed early, eat right, do all the right things to get ready for the final stretch."

On consecutive nights against Memphis and Milwaukee, Rose knocked down 24 of 25 free throws. The Bulls (53-19) won for the 12th time in their last 13 games, swept the season series against the Bucks and pulled 2 games ahead of Boston for first place in the Eastern Conference.

Milwaukee (29-43) was coming off a victory in New York on Friday and had a chance to pull even in the loss column with Indiana and Charlotte for the final playoff spot in the East.

For most of the game, the Bucks were following coach Scott Skiles' defensive plan to the letter. Ex-Bulls guard John Salmons scored 25 points, Carlos Delfino knocked down 5 of 7 shots from 3-point range, and Milwaukee led 60-45 with 7:45 left in the third quarter.


The game turned along with Rose's trust in his teammates. The comeback began with a pair of 3-pointers by Keith Bogans off Rose assists.

"I'm just trying to put pressure on them," Rose said. "That's the biggest thing I can do. Me putting pressure on them opens up everybody on the court. That's why I kept going to Keith. He's a shooter. He missed the first two, hit the next two. That's what we need from him."

The Bulls closed within 5 points by the end of the third quarter but still trailed 87-83 with 2:55 remaining. That's when the Bucks scored their final points of the night on a pair of Delfino free throws.

Rose hit 2 free throws, found Noah on the break, then gave the Bulls their first lead of the entire night on a bank shot with 1:53 left. Rose added a lane runner over Andrew Bogut, then drained a 17-foot turnaround jumper and the Bradley Center was engulfed in a Bulls-loving bedlam as the final seconds ticked away.

Carlos Boozer finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Noah added 12 points and 11 boards.


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