John Lucas gets advice from dad, Derrick Rose
BY SETH GRUEN For Sun-Times Media March 14, 2012 10:48PM
The Bulls’ Jimmy Butler defends Heat star LeBron James, who prepares to take a pass from Norris Cole. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: April 16, 2012 8:28AM
John Lucas III consulted a makeshift panel before the Bulls’ 106-102 victory Wednesday against the Miami Heat at the United Center.
He spoke with his father, former NBA coach John Lucas Jr., and with Bulls guard Derrick Rose, whose locker is next to his.
Both gave him the encouragement he needed to score a team-high 24 points in what Lucas called the best game of his professional career.
‘‘We’ve got heart, and we’ve got our captain’s back,’’ Lucas said, referring to Rose, who sat out with a strained groin muscle. ‘‘He went down, and we said, ‘We got it.’
‘‘Everybody’s here for a reason. Like Thibs said, ‘It’s not an accident you’re on this team. You’re a professional.’ And if you want to play professionally, you’ve got to step up.’’
When the Bulls played the Heat on Jan. 29 in Miami, their loss was highlighted by an alley-oop dunk LeBron James finished by jumping over the 5-10 Lucas.
But Lucas said he didn’t have revenge on his mind when James defended him in the final minutes of the game and was mindful to stay
under control while playing in a playoff-type atmosphere.
‘‘I was just out there playing,’’ Lucas said. ‘‘What happened in [Miami] happened in [Miami]. It was a great dunk. Can’t take nothing away from that. But I wanted to win. As soon as that ball went up in the air on the jump ball, I was tuned in to the game.’’
Lucas backed up C.J. Watson, who started in place of Rose, but he was the better player Wednesday and saw close to 27 minutes because Watson still was struggling with a sprained ankle that had kept him out of the Bulls’ last five games. Watson had taken a shot before the game to help him play.
Lucas can play both guard positions, and he gave the Heat’s defense fits with his cutting ability. He also used screens as well as anyone, sinking 3 of 5 three-pointers.
‘‘I was under control, I played with a lot of energy, I was picking up full court and I had a determination that I wanted this victory really bad,’’ Lucas said. ‘‘So I was going to do whatever it takes, even if I had to hold LeBron or whoever.’’