[UPDATE -- Rose was fined $25,000 by the NBA for his criticism of Monday night's officiating. -- Alex]
After a first half where the Knicks defense moved their feet to prevent the Bulls' usage of space, where Rose shot only 5-for-15 to score 13 points with only two assists, Rose scored 19 on 14 shots in the second half and added five more assists. Rose got notably more physical with Lin, throwing his entire body into Lin's mid-section when Lin over-anticipated a shot after getting punked by one of Rose's stepbacks.
Lin had five fouls on the night, putting him in a position to matador Rose on a fastbreak layup in the fourth quarter to avoid getting fouled out. Rose threw his body at Lin numerous times when Lin wanted to get into space, slowing down a potentially dangerous Knicks offense. When Lin got threw, Rose didn't hesitate to hack a couple of times when the help wasn't in place -- and Rose got his money's worth on those fouls, bringing Lin looking close to getting bleedy again.
K.C. Johnson added: "Rose defended with aggression. He blasted downcourt, often in out-of-control fashion. He yelled at officials. He cursed aloud after missing two free throws."
When asked after the game if he was looking forward to the matchup with Lin, Rose replied: "Definitely. Who's not right now? He's a good player, playing well for his team, controlling the game, getting people open. I play with a lot of confidence in myself when I'm out there. No matter who I'm playing against, I'm trying to win the matchup."
Rose doesn't follow Google Trends and likely doesn't give a crap, one way or another, that Linsanity threatened the bandwidth of search engine for a couple of weeks in February. If anything, Rose recognizes when a little extra is necessary to win a matchup. And comes strong when answering the call.
Lin had a good 15 points on 11 shots with eight assists and only three turnovers, but Rose was dead-set on not letting Lin beat the Bulls with his feet and handles. The Bulls stayed home on a lot of shooters, instead of over-committing, let alone trapping. But more importantly, recognized Lin's attempts to create passing lanes and quickly clogged them in the second half.
Rookie Jimmy Butler was again impressive, and moreso than one could ask. He managed to stay within a step of Carmelo Anthony off the ball. He always knew where the ball was and kept his feet active to be between the moving ball and a moving Anthony. It clearly frustrated Anthony to the point where Anthony was freezing more off the ball. When Anthony attempted to post-up to just get himself seen, he threw a little fit when he didn't get the ball. 'Melo established great positioning, but Butler just started throwing his arms around and under 'Melo's to deny confidence in Landry Fields to feed the ball to the superstar.
Just because it didn't show up in the box score, don't refer to Butler's defensive contributions as "the little things" against a scorer like 'Melo. Just don't. (Seriously, don't be dumb. That's a big thing.... I know. It's tempting. Don't do it...) His game did show up in the numbers with 'Melo only logging one shot in the first 11:50 of the fourth quarter -- a bricked 17-footer -- and Butler dropped eight points in seven shots, including an and-one, in almost 29 minutes of play.
Butler's feistiness and the Bulls' quick help for Carlos Boozer just made Lin's effort to run the offense all the tougher. But Rose's anger-fueled dominance of the second half defined the victory.
Speaking of Rose's anger, he was "uncharacteristically critical", Ricky O'Donnell noted, of the refs after the game, saying: "I've gotta be the only superstar in the league that's going through what I'm going through right now, but I can't say too much about it."
That's right, Derrick, you can't. Because that's against NBA regulations, Sam Smith added. But, clearly still steaming from not getting the calls after getting hacked up, he was care-free enough about the rules to say what he did. And Boozer took it a little further:
The NBA doesn't look favorably on criticism, though Carlos Boozer added, "My opinion is I feel like he gets hit every time he goes to the hoop. D. Rose makes a move and I think everybody is in awe of how long he hangs in the air, three, four, five seconds, and I think some of the refs are watching and in awe a little bit. He gets hit on every play. My opinion, he probably should have shot eight, 10 more free throws."
It took more pressing by the reporters, but Aggrey Sam put it the full quote of Rose being snippy:
However, when prodded, the reigning league MVP elaborated about what he believes is unfair treatment.
"How many times did I shoot today? [And a reporter responded, "29."] And I'm the point guard," he said, before discussing his strategy to combat the problem. "Keep going hard and make them call it. Keep driving. Just try to put pressure on them. If anything, I was worried about my turnovers.
"I [couldn't] care less right now [about being fined by the NBA for his comments]," the Englewood native continued. "I want to continue to play the way I know how to play. I came in this league a driver. Nothing has changed. I'll continue to play hard and try to win."
It's always more acceptable in the court of public opinion when a star makes the claim -- and his teammates back him up -- when said star is highly productive. The difference between whining and a level of raw emotion that fans, coaches, and teammates love is when a player reacts stronger with two points like this than with his two cents:
Rose said his anger put him in a daze that created this dunk that electrified the hometown fans and all but put a dagger in the Knicks' hopes for a win.
"I don't usually dunk it," he openly said about it. "It takes me a lot to dunk. I guess I was mad. I'd have to see it to go through it again to tell you how I felt. After that, I don't know what was going on. I probably blacked out a bit. I was just mad I wasn't getting any calls."
Rose going after Lin was a ton of fun. The story of this game, if you look anywhere around the web, is Rose's comments about the refs. But Knicks fans like The Knickerblogger know it was the Bulls grabbing over 40% (43.1%, according to Hoopdata) of all available offensive rebounds for the fourth time in the last five games that made the game closest to impossible for the Knicks to win:
Look at it this way: At least tomorrow we'll get the first photos of Amare's new Taj Gibson footprint face tattoo. Taj Gibson had 267% more offensive rebounds than Amar'e Stoudemire had rebounds. Chicago grabbed 440% more offensive rebounds than the Knicks writ large. A Bulls towel boy grabbed an offensive rebound. Michael Jordan's statue grabbed an offensive rebound. Scottie Pippen grabbed an offensive rebound. At this point, we're used to watching one category define our failure. But never has that one stat been as glaring as this one.
The injuries to Richard Hamilton, Luol Deng, and C.J. Watson suck. But the four bigs grabbing rebounds can always more than make up for all of that. The Bulls are by far leading the NBA with a 32.1% offensive rebounding rate (ORR); 11-1 in games with at least a 35% ORR. That number ain't easy, and it sure as hell don't lie.
ALSO: I'll be on Chris' "SportsManRadio" show streaming on the web at 5:30 CST today talkin' some Bulls. The link to the show is here.