Start of second quarter: Bulls 28, Celtics 28
My best sarcastic question for Chicago's Vinny Del Negro: "Vinny, it took you four full months to realize that you had young legs and a gifted young point guard and maybe you guys should push the ball. ... How long does it take you to, say, grocery shop? Three weeks? Four weeks?"
Question No. 1 from Nancy Lieberman: "How important was it for your team, a young team, to get off to this type of start especially here in the playoffs?"
Answer Del Negro gave: "Well, I think it was important, you know. I thought we were aggressive at times, got a little out of synch at times. We gotta control [Rajon] Rondo a little bit better. He had a nice first quarter with his penetration. We gotta control them, but I liked our effort."
Answer I wish Del Negro had given: "Getting off to a good start was much more important for me than the team. I'm such a basket case that my dad decided to sit on the bench with me for the playoffs. No, really -- he's right over there. If we win, he said he's going to take me out for ice cream!"
Question No. 2 from Lieberman: "Besides Rondo's 12 points, you did a great job, how do you slow Rondo down, especially in the half court?"
Answer Del Negro gave: "Well, we'll change up our coverages a little bit on him, but you know he made a couple jump shots, but he got to the basket a little too easy. So, we're gonna have to get in and help on that penetration."
Answer I wish Del Negro had given: "We have some ideas, but even I'm not dumb enough to tell our opponent the answer on live TV. And I'm the same guy who's going to run out of timeouts in the first two games of the series. So that's saying something."
Tidbit we learned from this exchange: With Rondo on pace for 48 points, the Bulls decided it might be smart to change their defensive approach with him.
Another thing I can't get enough of - Derrick Rose ...
Just getting started -
Derrick Rose looked so nervous during his first professional game in July that I almost felt bad for him.
The Memphis star was playing for the Bulls' summer league team at the time, and looked miserably uncomfortable out on the floor. He managed only 10 points and five turnovers on the day -- getting thoroughly outplayed by Miami guard -- and second round pick -- Mario Chalmers. "We didn't win," Rose said after the game. "So I think I played horrible, but tomorrow's a new day."
As I watched all of this unfold at the RDV Sportsplex in Orlando, I thought John Paxson might have made a mistake with the team's No. 1 selection.
Luckily for Bulls' fans, Rose has come a long way since July. He looks like a completely different player on the court now; confident, quick and always in control. In just under a year, the point guard from Simeon has transformed into not only the best rookie in the NBA, but one of the best players in the entire league. Aside from Chris Paul and Deron Williams, is there another point guard you would take over Rose right now?
Great things on and off the court -
Three words describe Derrick Rose: professional, humble and driven.
He does not want to raise the bar, he wants to be the bar. I think the comparisons with Chris Paul and Deron Williams and other great players are fine, but Derrick Rose wants to be Derrick Rose. While he admires the players he grew up watching and playing alongside, his level of challenges has not been realized yet. He wants to be the standard.
Off the court, his humility has impressed me the most. I've seen him spend time with autograph seekers outside the hotel, and he's never rude. He puts in as much time as he can before having to board the bus. He doesn't say, "I'm a superstar," or even a star. He doesn't have that air about him. I give him and his family a lot of credit.
There's a lot of pressure playing in your hometown. You not only have to be good, you have to be good every night. People were following him from day one. That weighs on an individual. I've seen a lot of people who can't handle playing in their hometown, and he's embraced it.
On the court, the one moment I remember most vividly was not his first playoff game. Without any question, the most impressive moment was in Philadelphia during the seventh and final game of the West Coast circus trip. Derrick raced 94 feet and from behind blocked a shot by Andre Miller, who was going in for an uncontested layup. Miller had a good 25 feet on any player, and this kid hustled all the way back -- full steam -- and came out of nowhere to block the shot. He set the tone for that game, which the Bulls won.
Story about how the Celtics have no chance to win a title without KG -
How can you instill fear into other opponents when the guard tandem of Derrick Rose and Ben Gordon
of the 7th-seeded Bulls are practically sneering and laughing at the ghosts in the Garden rafters? How can you defend your title when you can't defend the paint?
Everyone knew that Garnett was the heart and soul of the team that marched relentlessly to the crown room a year ago. But was he the liver, kidney, spine and the rest of the vital body parts, as well?
It was one thing to see Rose roll into Boston and put on that singular performance in Game 1. He is that talented, that confident, that strong, that fast, that good.
The Bulls came into the series with nobody expecting anything from them. They could play free and loose and Rose could be the precocious rookie who didn't know enough to be overwhelmed by the atmosphere of playing in Boston and the pressure of the situation. In short, the Bulls could sucker punch Boston before the Celtics even knew what hit them.
It was something else entirely when the Bulls took the floor for Game 2 and once again treated the Celtics and the situation with impunity.
Playoff power rankings. The Bulls have made quite a jump!