Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose drives the lane against Indiana center Roy Hibbert in the first quarter of an exhibition game against the Indiana Pacers Tuesday December 20, 2011 at the United Center . | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: January 22, 2012 8:19AM
Point guard Derrick Rose agreed to a five-year, $94 million contract extension on the same night he took the floor with the new wingman the Bulls hope can help him get the only thing he hasn’t earned in his first three seasons — an NBA championship.
‘‘Tonight at times the game felt easy,’’ Rose said.
Rose and shooting guard Rip Hamilton were as advertised in the exhibition finale Tuesday night against the Indiana Pacers at the United Center.
There are still kinks to work out, of course. Their timing wasn’t always where it needs to be, but the way they get up and down the floor, they’ll have plenty of chances to perfect that. There are still nuances of each other’s games to be learned, spots on the floor where they want the ball the most.
If the 93-85 victory was any indication, however, the Bulls have acquired an ideal complement for the reigning most valuable player.
‘‘It was fun; it was exciting,’’ said Hamilton, who had 13 points, four rebounds and six assists in nearly 30 minutes. ‘‘It was probably the first time I’ve ever played with someone faster than me. Trying to keep up with him every time he pushed the ball on the break was fun.
‘‘It was exciting because you get so many easy baskets running with him.’’
It was the Bulls’ first game at the United Center since losing Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals to the Miami Heat last season. The biggest difference between then and now put on his patented transparent facemask and a white headband before taking the court with his new teammates.
It didn’t take long for Hamilton to make an impression.
Rose, who had 12 points, missed an outside jumper, got his own rebound and drove the baseline before kicking it out to the team’s new addition for an 18-foot jumper with 10:34 left in the first quarter.
What followed was the kind of eight-minute stretch that made general manager Gar Forman covet the veteran guard.
‘‘[Hamilton is] very smooth,’’ said forward Carlos Boozer, who had a team-high 24 points and seven rebounds. ‘‘It was like there was no transition. He knows the plays, knows where to move the ball and make the extra pass.’’
Hamilton opened the
second half with a three-pointer before scoring on a post-up move.
His behind-the-back pass to forward Taj Gibson for a dunk midway through the fourth quarter was the highlight of the night. Defensively, he fit right in.
Hamilton plays the type of complementary game that should make the Bulls a tougher matchup for the Heat down the road.
‘‘The whole team played unselfishly,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said after the Bulls had 30 assists. ‘‘They made the extra pass; we got easy baskets; we got the ball up the floor quickly; we played inside-out. Offensively, I thought it was excellent.’’
Meanwhile, Rose’s new contract is expected to be announced at a news conference Wednesday.
Rose said the money won’t change him.
‘‘I just know if I keep working hard and treating people the right way, good things will happen to me,’’ he said.