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Attack mode pays dividends for Derrick Rose, Bulls in road win

Derrick Rose (19 points eight assists) shoots over Kings’ Chuck Hayes Thursday.  |   EzrShaw~Getty Images

Derrick Rose (19 points, eight assists) shoots over the Kings’ Chuck Hayes on Thursday. | Ezra Shaw~Getty Images

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The facts: 9:30, Ch. 9, 1000-AM.

Updated: January 31, 2012 8:28AM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Derrick Rose stepped to the free-throw line less than three minutes into Thursday night’s game against the Kings. When he was scoring himself with pull-up jumpers or by driving into the lane, the reigning MVP was creating easier shots for his teammates, and the Bulls’ offense looked as good as it has this season.

Rose said it would be an easy adjustment, and he was right. After the offense stalled early in the first two games, the Bulls point guard vowed to be more aggressive early, and he was against the Kings in Power Balance Pavilion. The result? For the first time this young season, the Bulls’ offense looked like the Bulls’ offense of old in a 108-98 victory.

Rose knew something had to change when the offense looked lifeless for the second consecutive game in Monday night’s loss at Golden State. By the time the Bulls practiced Wednesday, coach Tom Thibodeau had told Rose what he already knew: It was time to forget about getting everybody else involved and be aggressive like he was during last year’s MVP season.

Rose got the message.

“[Derrick] was in attack mode right from the start of the game,” Thibodeau said afterward. “That’s usually who he is. He set the tone on both ends.”

Said Rose: “I’m kind of mad. The refs kind of messed me up late in the game and [foul trouble] threw me off my game a little. We were really playing in a groove. Guys were really shooting the ball. My assists are going to be high this season.”

Rose wasted little time establishing himself. After taking four shots in the first quarter of the first two games, he took seven shots in the first quarter against the Kings, making three. He attempted as many free throws (4) in the first half than he had in the first two games.

The Bulls scored 15 unanswered points in the first quarter and could have put the young Kings away if not for more sloppy defense, turnovers (18 for 23 Kings’ points) and foul trouble by several key players, including Rose, who also had several uncharacteristic turnovers late.

Carlos Boozer was the of the primary beneficiaries of Rose’s more-aggressive approach. The forward finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Rip Hamilton added 16 as the Bulls had five players in double figures. Rose finished with 18 points and eight assists in limited minutes. C.J. Watson came off the bench to contribute eight points and nine assists.

When to make sure he’s getting his shots and when to set up others always will be a balancing act for Rose. What he has to remember is he can do both. The best way for him to set up his teammates is by doing what he does better than any point guard in the league — attack the basket and score himself or find the open man.

“Derrick is Derrick,” Rip Hamilton said. “He can dominate the game in so many different ways. As a point guard he still has to get a feel for everybody on the floor and knowing when to attack and when to initiate the offense. Things like that.”

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