One day after an emotional victory against the Miami Heat, Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls could have let distractions get the best of them. Instead, they won their third straight game and improved their record to 44-18 on Monday night. Their opponents were the New Orleans Hornets, who were without their best player. Chris Paul had suffered a concussion the previous night in Cleveland.
The Hornets, however, did not lay their heads down with Jarrett Jack in the starting lineup. Jack was tenacious on defense and aggressive getting the ball to the rim. His tough play made this a grind-out game for Rose and the Bulls. They took advantage of the Bulls playing on back-to-back days and locked down their team defense on the Bulls’ offense. New Orleans held Chicago to 38 percent field goal shooting.
Unfortunately for the Hornets, the calling card for the Bulls all season long has been their defense and rebounding. Those factors ultimately tipped the scale in Chicago’s favor, who managed to survive its own poor shooting night by holding New Orleans to only 36 percent from the field. In addition, the Bulls beat the Hornets 46-41 on the glass.
Carlos Boozer won the battle of the power forwards head-to-head with David West. Boozer battled back from a few sub-par performances on the road by shooting 8-of-14 from the field. He finished with 19 points and nine rebounds, and Joakim Noah contributed with six points, 13 rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
West was held to only 11 points on 4-of-17 shooting but did grab 11 rebounds. The Bulls were much better at distributing the ball with 24 assists (nine turnovers), while the Hornets only had 10 (ten turnovers). A few too many isolation plays and one-and-done shot attempts may have been the difference in the game. It was clear that New Orleans heavily depends on Paul to lead their offense and finish games.
Derrick Rose had 24 points, four rebounds, nine assists, a steal and two blocks. But he was still critical of himself after the win, saying that he was not aggressive enough over the course of the game.
Nonetheless, the Chicago Bulls are a team flying high. After a highly-touted victory in Miami against the Heat, for the third straight time this season, Rose and his teammates are finally earning some national attention. There are even whispers that this team really can contend for an NBA Championship.
Orlando Magic Center, Dwight Howard, seems to think so:
“I think Chicago is playing the best basketball right now,” said Howard on the The Dan Patrick Show.
Howard also went on to say that if he could not vote for himself, he would vote for Rose to win the Most Valuable Player Award.
The Bulls currently hold a 1.5 game lead over the Miami Heat and reside in second place in the Eastern Conference—2.5 games behind the Boston Celtics.
With the game knotted 77-77, the Chicago Bulls held the New Orleans Hornets scoreless in the last 3:19 and went on to score the last eight points of the game in the 85-77 victory on Monday night.