Derrick Rose scored a career-high 42 points as the Chicago Bulls entered All-Star Weekend with a massive 109-99 home win over the San Antonio Spurs. The Bulls, No. 3 in the East and home to one of the league's most talked about MVP candidates in Rose, hardly need more confidence. They've had a wonderful season to date. But if there was any question about whether the Bulls could challenge the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat in the Eastern playoffs? Those concerns ought to be squelched.
The Spurs, of course, came in and left with the NBA's best record by no small margin. The loss was San Antonio's 10th in 56 games; no other team has fewer than 14 losses or more than 41 wins. It would take a grand collapse for the Spurs to lose home court advantage throughout the postseason, and it's not likely to happen. This is the perspective for how good the Spurs are, and how fantastic this win is for the Bulls.
Of course, it also happened to be the final game of San Antonio's Rodeo Road Trip. The Spurs have spent all of February on the road, ending the trip 6-3. While a nine-game road trip will tire any team, the Spurs' contests were spread over 18 days, and San Antonio had two games off prior to the Bulls' match-up. This isn't similar to the Lakers' Wednesday loss in Cleveland, where L.A. had played five games in seven nights. The Spurs may be on the road, but they are rather rested.
It didn't matter. Rose ripped through the still-excellent Spurs defense regularly, beating Tony Parker off the dribble with relative ease. Rose scored 11 points in the first, 10 in the second, eight in the third and 13 in the fourth. He was, in a word, relentless, and nothing the Spurs tried to slow him managed to work.
If you root for the Celtics or Heat, this Bulls team and Rose specifically must terrify you. What a performance, and what a team.