WASHINGTON – Fresh off an embarrassing performance Sunday in Miami, Derrick Rose couldn’t wait to make up for it a day later.
And, boy, did he ever.
Rose scored a season-high 35 points to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 98-88 win over the Washington Wizards on Monday night. It came a day after the reigning league MVP missed two key free throws and a possible game-tying jumper in the final 30 seconds in a four-point loss to the Miami Heat.
He got off to a hot start against the Wizards, scoring 13 points in the first quarter as the Bulls improved their Eastern Conference-leading record to 18-5. Chicago never trailed, led by as many as 22 and never let Washington get closer than eight points in the second half.
“I just played my game — and that’s me being aggressive,” Rose said.
No doubt about it.
In the first quarter, Rose took the Wizards out of the game with a dazzling array of shots — three floaters, a driving layup, a gorgeous reverse layup and a nifty running bank shot. The Bulls took a quick 21-10 lead, and the Wizards were in trouble.
“Sometimes I caught myself spectating. Some of those shots were unbelievable,” Washington’s Trevor Booker said.
Rose scored 15 of Chicago’s 25 third-quarter points as it built a 22-point lead.
“Usually in the third quarter, we tend to back off,” Rose said. “This game, we kept going, trying to make the game easy — and that’s how we got the win.”
In the fourth quarter, the Wizards got within eight, but never really made it competitive.
Rose was 10 for 20 from the field with a three-pointer, and hit 14 of 15 from the line. He had eight assists.
Many in the season-high crowd of 18,357 were chanting “M-V-P! M-V-P!” as Rose showed off his skills. He had help from Carlos Boozer, who had 18 points — six in the first four minutes — and 12 in the fourth quarter. Kyle Korver had 17 — 14 in the first half — and five three-pointers. Joakim Noah chipped in with 14 points, 13 rebounds and tied a career high with seven assists.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau credited Rose for the impressive win — Chicago’s 13th of at least 10 points.
“He comes out like it’s his will. He imposes his will on everybody,” Thibodeau said.
The Wizards are just 4-16. They had won two of their previous three games, both against the woeful Charlotte Bobcats, who have the worst record in the NBA.
John Wall led the Wizards with 20 points, while Nick Young had 17, and JaVale McGee scored 16.
Randy Wittman, who replaced Flip Saunders as coach last Tuesday, said the Bulls, who held Washington to a franchise-low 64 points in their last meeting on Jan. 11, were the best team he’d seen this season.
Wittman didn’t find any fault with his team and knows Wall is little match at this stage for Rose.
“He creates a lot of things for a lot of people,” Wittman said about Rose.
He marveled at Rose’s ability to easily move about much larger Wizards — defeating any strategy Wittman could devise.
“I don’t know what else you can do,” Wittman said.
Chicago quickly opened up a 21-10 lead and had a 26-16 advantage after the first quarter. Midway through the second, the Wizards scored seven straight to cut the lead to 36-30, but the Bulls stretched their lead to 51-40 at halftime.
Chicago ran off 11 straight points in the third quarter to take a 70-49 lead with 5:24 left.
Before the game, Rose vowed not to repeat Sunday.
“If I ever get in that position again, I know it will be totally different. Yesterday isn’t going to do anything but make me stronger as a player,” Rose said.
Against Washington, Rose came out quickly — hitting six of eight shots from the field in the first quarter.
Early in the fourth, the Bulls led by 19, but Washington cut it to eight with 6:50 to play. Boozer hit three straight baskets, and Chicago led 92-78.
Notes: Wizards F Andray Blatche will miss three-to-five weeks with a strained left calf, Wittman announced before the game. … Washington recalled C Hamady Ndiaye from Iowa of the D-League. … The Bulls played without G Richard Hamilton (right thigh) and F Luol Deng (left wrist). It was the fifth straight game Deng missed. … This was the second of a nine-game road trip for Chicago — its longest since 1992-93. … The Bulls have won seven straight between the teams.