The Bulls defeated the Orlando Magic 102-99. The win was to be expected, but there was a lot more that this game told than the box score. That being that, Derrick Rose has now legitimately put a stamp on his run for the MVP Award this Season.
Was it because of his 39 points on 13-17 shooting, or his late-game play that sent Taj Gibson to the free-throw line to give them a cushion? Or was it the fact he kept pushing, despite sent to the floor quite a few times during the game, scaring Bulls fans worldwide with the risk of a late-game injury? Or was it the defense he played on Jameer Nelson that forced him to make a heroic shot after the buzzer sounded, with Rose confidently walking away knowing the shot didn't count?
All of those are great accomplishments. However, those aren't things that we didn't already know Rose was capable of.
For the longest time, the talk of Rose for MVP has been getting mixed emotions. Some say he definitely deserve it, others look at his stats and say he's not there yet—some even claim that because Howard pretty much is the Orlando Magic team, he's the Most Valuable Player in the league. Going so far as to say players like Joakim Noah would be the second best player on Orlando's roster. This game proved that to be false
Without Howard, the Orlando Magic showed just how good they can play. Their defense was gritty, their offense was superb. Ryan Anderson had possibly the best game of his career, showing just how underrated he really is in the process.
The Orlando roster is stacked top to bottom with players who can light up the scoreboard at a moments notice. They're undersized of course, but there isn't a lack of talent on this team, in-fact, top to bottom their roster is more talented than that of Chicago's. Proof?
Taking both Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose out of the equation, the Bulls' second best player is Carlos Boozer, a borderline All-Star albeit inconsistent. Orlando's second best would have to be Jameer Nelson, another Borderline All-Star who's also inconsistent. After this, we have Luol Deng.
Now match him up with Jason Richardson. These two give about the same amount of production, with J-Rich being a more efficient scorer while Deng is a superior defender. Ryan Anderson is no Joakim Noah, but he's a very underrated player who can stretch the defense.
Now round out that roster with names like Gilbert Arenas, JJ Reddick, Hedo Turkoglu, Quentin Richardson, Brandon Bass and Chris Duhon as compared to Taj Gibson, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, Keith Bogans, Omer Asik and CJ Watson, and it appears as if the Magic have the more capable team top to bottom, as I've stated before.
This game showed this team can compete at a high level without Howard—I'd even say their offense was more efficient, pushing the No.1-seeded Bulls to the buzzer in a very close and exciting game. Orlando's MVP was not present, Chicago's MVP was there in all his glory, yet the victory had to be edged out in the final seconds due to his late game heroics.
Fabricating imaginary seasons without Howard and claiming the Magic would fail horribly, when games like this provide an example of just how the team would actually do without him against top competition, is an incredibly fallacious stance to take.
If there's any question who's more valuable to his team, then let this game serve as proof. Derrick Rose is the MVP of the league.