CHICAGO » Six championship banners hang from the United Center rafters and five more float at Los Angeles’ Staples Center in large part because of the talents and winning wirings of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
Derrick Rose isn’t at those levels yet. But he seeks them — with great intensity — and flashed his own prodigiously competitive DNA during the Bulls’ 88-84 victory over the Lakers last night at the United Center.
At the morning shootaround, Bryant reacted with near disgust when asked if moments like his postgame chat with Rose on Nov. 23 in Los Angeles were part of a passing of the torch process.
"I ain’t passing (expletive)," Bryant said.
Rose plays with the same intensity and showed it not only with his 29 points and nine assists, but with his reaction when told of Bryant’s comment.
"I love it," Rose said. "That’s why I say I look at myself like an old-school player. Back in the day, players really went at each other. His mentality is great.
"I take it very seriously, knowing my opponent really wants to come at me, especially now. It’s not just God’s gifts. You have to work at this game. If not, you’re just going to be average. You have to want it and do whatever you have to do to get it."
Rose and the Bulls played with this force after falling behind 13 points in the first quarter as they stormed back for their fourth straight victory with dazzling defense and big play after big play.
None were bigger than Rose’s stepback jumper with 25.2 seconds left, which pushed the Bulls’ lead to 85-80 after Bryant led an 11-2 run to bring the Lakers back.
Rose also had scored the other basket in the run with a left-handed finger roll and, earlier in the quarter, beat the shot clock with a 2-point heave while Bryant swiped at the ball.
Rose then made it a two-possession game when he hit the second of two free throws with 14.9 seconds left. The Bulls had lost seven straight to the Lakers since they won Dec. 19, 2006.
"I don’t think you can develop (a killer instinct)," Bryant said. "I think you either have that or you don’t. I think he has had it since he was in high school.
"That separates players, I think. Players of equal ability, it’s really about the engine you have inside. It certainly gives him an edge."
The Bulls began playing with an edge when Kyle Korver scored eight of his 13 points in the second quarter to lead a solid bench effort. Ronnie Brewer and Luol Deng also ably guarded Bryant, who scored 23 on 9-for-23 shooting.
But the story of the game was Rose.
"Derrick is somebody who wants to be great," Joakim Noah said. "I’ve never been around somebody who is so hard on himself. He really wants to be the best player.
He’s special because he has a lot of abilities but his mind-set is what makes him unique. I’ve never seen somebody with that much ability so humble off the court. But on the court, his swag is unbelievable."
Bulls 88, Lakers 84
Artest 1-6 0-0 2, Odom 7-12 4-6 18, Gasol 9-15 3-4 21, Fisher 2-8 2-2 7, Bryant 9-23 4-6 23, Blake 1-3 0-0 3, Barnes 5-7 0-0 10, Brown 0-4 0-0 0, Vujacic 0-0 0-0 0, Walton 0-0 0-0 0, Caracter 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 34-78 13-18 84.
Deng 6-8 0-0 14, Boozer 5-9 0-0 10, Noah 3-10 3-3 9, Rose 12-25 2-4 29, Bogans 0-3 0-0 0, Brewer 2-5 6-6 10, Gibson 0-4 0-0 0, Asik 0-2 1-2 1, Watson 1-3 0-0 2, Korver 4-11 2-2 13. Totals 33-80 14-17 88.
3-Point Goals–L.A. Lakers 3-13 (Blake 1-1, Fisher 1-3, Bryant 1-4, Brown 0-1, Odom 0-1, Artest 0-1, Barnes 0-2), Chicago 8-17 (Rose 3-5, Korver 3-6, Deng 2-3, Bogans 0-3). Fouled Out–None. Rebounds–L.A. Lakers 47 (Gasol, Odom 8), Chicago 52 (Boozer 11). Assists–L.A. Lakers 20 (Bryant 7), Chicago 19 (Rose 9). Total Fouls–L.A. Lakers 17, Chicago 19. A–22,760 (20,917).