CHICAGO - Derrick Rose grabbed the microphone and thanked the fans for making him Chicago's first All-Star starter since Michael Jordan in 1998. Then he went out and showed why they made a wise decision.
Rose scored a career-high 42 points, and the Bulls headed into the All-Star break with an impressive 109-99 victory over the NBA-leading San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night.
Luol Deng had 19 points, and Carlos Boozer finished with 15 for Chicago, which shot 54 percent in its fourth consecutive win. The Bulls improved to 38-16 after winning 41 games last season.
“We have a lot of confidence right now, knowing we can beat some of the best teams in the NBA,” Rose said. “We just have to keep it going.”
Once again hearing “M-V-P! M-V-P!” chants, Rose was at his best when San Antonio challenged Chicago in the fourth quarter. The guard had 13 points in the final period, answering Spurs baskets with acrobatic drives and long jumpers.
“What’s great about him is that he seems to love the pressure,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “He loves putting the team on his back so to speak.”
Rose’s long jumper as the shot clock expired with 3:21 to play gave Chicago a 101-90 lead and took the steam out of a San Antonio rally. He also finished with eight assists and five rebounds.
“That was some performance,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said.
Artest backs bill: Lakers forward Ron Artest was among those who showed up in the nation’s capital to support the proposed Mental Health in Schools Act – introduced in the House by Rep. Grace Napolitano, a California Democrat. The bill would create a grant program that allows school districts to hire mental health counselors. Artest said he’s “personally experienced the benefits and transformation a person can have, just by having access to qualified mental health professionals.”
Duncan in, Yao out: San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich says Spurs forward Tim Duncan will replace Yao Ming in the Western Conference’s starting lineup for Sunday’s All-Star game. It will be the 12th straight All-Star start for Duncan, who is averaging a career-low 13.4 points and 9.2 rebounds.
Foot sidelines Kings’ Evans: Sacramento Kings guard Tyreke Evans will miss the Rookie Challenge at All-Star weekend with an injured left foot. Evans, who will be replaced by Oklahoma City’s James Harden on the sophomore team, is scheduled to meet with a doctor in Los Angeles on Monday.