IN BRIEF: 'Kill' Russell: Rose ready to battle point pal Westbrook
BY JOHN JACKSON firstname.lastname@example.org
During the last three summers, Bulls point guard Derrick Rose has spent much of his time in Los Angeles working out with Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook.
They've developed a friendship off the court and were teammates on the U.S. team that won the FIBA world championship this summer in Turkey.
But that doesn't mean Rose will take it easy tonight when the Bulls face the Thunder in the season opener in Oklahoma City.
''We're friends off the court,'' Rose said. ''But on the court, I'm trying to kill you.''
Rose and Westbrook, who are represented by the same agency, came into the league in the same draft class and are considered two of the best young point guards in the NBA.
Rose's top priority will be winning the game, but he'll be looking for other things in his matchup with Westbrook.
''We've been working on the same things, like having a consistent jump shot,'' Rose said. ''He's really taller than I am, so it's going to be tough for me to guard him. But it should be an interesting matchup.''Staying put
James Johnson's rookie year was a disappointment. His name was included as a salary throw-in when the Bulls were discussing the possibility of trading for Carmelo Anthony last month.
But Johnson played well during the preseason, and the Bulls decided to pick up the third-year option on his rookie contract for the 2011-12 season.
''I worked hard this summer, and I knew it would pay off,'' Johnson said. ''They've seen me working in the Berto Center every day in the summer. I just went out, relaxed and played my game. It's my second year in the league, so I'm more comfortable.
''I'm happy to get picked up. I'm excited. I called my family. They're excited, and we'll go from there.''
Johnson's improved play, though, may not have earned him a spot in the rotation at the start of the season.
''I'm probably going to have to cheer for my teammates until it's my time,'' he said. ''I'll cheer for my teammates and be a hard-nosed player in practice.''