Chicago’s Hope

By: 04.14.10  •  36 Comments

Derrick Rose, Dime #32

Even with Ben Gordon gone to Detroit cashing huge paychecks and planning his offseason vacation early, it would have been easy to watch last night’s Bulls/Celtics game and think it was a replay from last year’s classic playoff series … With Derrick Rose and Co. battling for that last postseason spot in the East, this was a must-win for the home team, who along with the crowd rose to the occasion to create a Game 7 atmosphere. Rajon Rondo is our man 50 grand and all, but he was getting eaten up like Hungry Hungry Hippos chips by D-Rose. On his way to 39 points and 7 assists, Rose got into the lane whenever and however he wanted on Rondo (4 pts), he stuck pull-up jumpers, and he unleashed a ridiculous reverse windmill two-hander in the first half that may have been the Uncontested Dunk of the Year. It was no accident: With the Bulls down four at the time and a nervous buzz in the building, that dunk was intended by D-Rose to wake up the crowd and get his teammates going … Meanwhile, Kirk Hinrich scored 30 and was looking like he did back in his Iowa high school days, when he was always the best player on the court … Down three at halftime, Boston came out in the third quarter executing like a veteran title contender should, and led by as much as seven after Paul Pierce (28 pts) and Ray Allen (25 pts) started heating up. But Chicago bounced back in the fourth, taking control behind Rose’s paint work and Hinrich’s outside shooting. The dagger came with 43 seconds left, when Hinrich drilled a baseline J at the shot clock buzzer to put the Bulls up seven. Ray then airballed a three on the other end, and while D-Rose blew a chance for the serious exclamation point when he bobbled a breakaway dunk attempt and had to lay it in, everybody on the Bulls could still laugh about it … The loss locks Boston into the 4-seed, while Chicago’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot is one … Whether he’s lost a step or three or not, Kevin Garnett needs to re-establish his role as Boston’s intimidator ASAP. Big Baby has been play-acting the tough guy recently, and it’s not working. His hard fouls aren’t hard enough, and most of your old-head goons like Kurt Thomas and Joe Smith aren’t worried about Baby whatsoever … Thank God for Craig Sager, otherwise we’d never know that swimsuit model Marisa Miller thinks Derrick Rose is “cute,” or that Rose was named Chicago’s sexiest athlete. Not that tough when your competition is Jay Cutler, Carlos Zambrano, Ozzie Guillen, Joakim Noah and some hockey players with 5 teeth, but congrats anyway … We knew things were kind of a mess in Chicago with the front-office and Coach Del Negro being on the hot seat, but how crazy are these reports about Del Negro and John Paxson getting in shoving matches? Did Al Davis secretly buy the Bulls and not tell anybody? …

Amar'e Stoudemire (photo. King Lawrence)

For a minute it looked like the Suns were gonna pants the Nuggets by 40, after Phoenix got out to an 18-2 lead in the first quarter and Amar’e Stoudemire seemed intent on dunking everything he touched. Chauncey Billups — who should be gifted the “Never Nervous” nickname from Pervis Ellison — kept Denver from totally falling apart at that point by easing up the tempo where he could, and Carmelo tried to will his team back, but the Suns were off and running. They won by 22 … Amar’e finished with 26 points, while Steve Nash had 18 and 10 assists. The Suns can now end up no worse than 4th in the West, and will be 3rd if they beat Utah tonight. As with every team in the West it’s all about avoiding the Lakers for as long as possible, but in Phoenix’s case, they also have to be concerned about where the Spurs wind up. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker can be as banged up as ever, but for either way, they routinely own the Suns … Only two other games on the NBA schedule: Pau Gasol scored 28 to lead the Lakers past the Kings while Kobe rested; and Paul Millsap had 10 points and 24 rebounds in Utah’s win over Golden State, but Carlos Boozer strained a rib muscle in the first half and didn’t return … At least one member of the Dime crew is on the record giving Kevin Durant his vote for NBA’s Most Improved Player. Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley made their picks in the TNT studio last night, with Barkley endorsing Robin Lopez and Smith taking Andray Blatche. Not exactly sure how Blatche getting PT by default over the last three months of the season and not having any impact at all on his team’s win-less record (unless you think Blatche is the reason the Wizards got worse) earns him that award, but whatever. And how many times has The Jet actually watched the Wizards play when they weren’t on TNT? One? Zero? … We’re out like Blatche getting a trophy …

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