Before the Chicago Bulls and Denver Nuggets faced off Monday night, all of the talk was about Carmelo Anthony playing against the Bulls at the United Center, a place fans would like to see Anthony be playing in the home white for years to come.
Anthony is still a Denver Nugget, yet he had some glowing words for the Bulls before Monday night's game.
"I don't want to say this in the wrong way, but anybody would love to play with a guy like Derrick Rose, a young point guard and star who gets the ball up and down the court and has improved his game every year," Anthony said. "They have a young big man in [Joakim] Noah. They got [Carlos] Boozer, who's hurt right now. They got a good team."
Anthony also called Chicago a "top-three city" among the NBA cities, along with talking about Michael Jordan's impact on Chicago Bulls basketball.
"Of course it's one of the top [cities]. Want to know a number? You know, top three," Anthony said. "Of course, what MJ brought to the city, just the city itself being a big city and the historic value of basketball, everyone know what Chicago is like."
Anthony has garnered interest from several teams around the NBA and showed why Monday night, with 32 points (game-high), eight rebounds, four steals and two blocks.
Anthony was 11-22 from the field, 1-1 from the three-point line and 9-9 on free-throws.
The player the Nuggets wanted back in any deal from the Bulls was center Joakim Noah, who had himself quite the game.
Noah had 13 points, 19 rebounds and four blocks, showing why the Bulls rewarded him with a five-year, $60 million deal this offseason.
The Bulls also refused to add Noah in any package landing them Anthony, a move that caused a bit of a stir around Chicago.
Noah won't be competing for scoring title; however, his energy, passion and leadership is why the Bulls didn't want to trade the up-and-coming center.
Derrick Rose had a tough game shooting the ball—just 7-21 from the field—but overall had a solid floor game, with six assists, including a pretty feed to Ronnie Brewer late in the fourth quarter.
Rose didn't play at the MVP-level he has been showcasing, but when it mattered, Rose put the Bulls on his back and made plays happen.
Another player improving by the day is forward Taj Gibson, who had 16 points, six rebounds, five blocks and three assists.
Gibson shot 7-12 from the field; he has hit mid-range jumpers with great regularity so far this season.
Luol Deng had another solid game with 17 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Deng will be depended on to be a solid number two scorer for the Bulls until Carlos Boozer gets back, and solid games like Monday night will be needed for the Bulls to stay competitive while Boozer is on the shelf.
Overall, the Bulls had all five starters in double-digit scoring, along with 20 points off the bench. Unlike the game versus the Boston Celtics, the Bulls' bench held their own against the Nuggets' bench.
"I liked our fight [tonight]," coach Tom Thibodeau said.
With the circus trip coming up, the Bulls will need plenty of fight to stay around the .500 mark.