Newly crowned NBA MVP Derrick Rose played inspired basketball on Friday night in a 99-82 Chicago Bulls victory. Rose scored a career playoff high 44 points on 16-27 shooting including 4-7 from 3 point land and 8-9 from the line. Rose also added 7 assists and 5 rebounds to go along with a blocked shot and a steal. What is most impressive about this performance is the fact that Derrick appears to finally be healthy after spraining his ankle in the Pacers series and again in Game 1. Since the injury Rose has appeared to be hesitant to drive into the lane and draw contract and get to the free throw line. In game 3 we saw the Derrick Rose that is the best and most complete player in the NBA- one that hits his jump shots and creates in the lane.
The Bulls victory however was not all Derrick Rose. The Bulls stifling defense and ability to rebound also deserves a lot of credit. The defense held 5 time NBA Allstar Joe Johnson to just 10 points on 4-12 shooting. The only bright spots for the Hawks were Josh Smith who contributed 17 points and 13 rounds and Jeff Teague who led the team with 21. The Bulls out rebounded the Hawks 47-34 including 18 offensive rebounds compared to the 9 for the Hawks. Despite that fact that Joakim Noah scored only 2 points he played some impressive D, grabbed 15 boards (8 offensive), and tallied 5 block shots.
Another key contributor for the Bulls was Taj Gibson who filled in nicely for the struggling, injured, and foul plagued Carlos Boozer. Taj added 13 points and 11 rebounds in just 265 minutes of action.
The win in game 3 gives the Bulls a 2-1 advantage over the Atlanta Hawks in the best of seven Eastern Conference Semifinals. Game 4 will be held in Atlanta on Sunday 5/8/2011. If the Bulls win game 4 they will have a chance to clinch the series in Game 5 in Chicago on 5/10/2010.