CHICAGO – The Bulls were pretty sure that they would not regret making Derrick Rose the top pick in last year’s draft instead of Michael Beasley.
The choice has paid off, with Rose figuring prominently into the conversation for the Rookie of the Year award while Beasley has been solid but not spectacular for the Miami Heat.
Thursday night, with Beasley and the Heat in town to face the Bulls, the gap was not as clear. Rose scored 18 points to go with six assists, and Beasley made 9 of 10 shots off the bench to finish with 21 points and seven rebounds.
“He was very good for them tonight,” Rose said. “Him, [Dwyane] Wade and [Shawn] Marion were all very good, and those are the guys that can really carry that team.”
Rose entered Thursday night’s game averaging 16.9 points and 6.3 assists while playing 37 minutes a game.
Beasley, whose name has come up in trade rumors involving Phoenix Suns forward Amare Stoudemire, was averaging 13.2 points and 5.2 rebounds in 24 minutes a game.
“I’m pretty sure he’ll develop into an extremely productive player for them,” Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said. “Obviously, we’re very pleased to have Derrick here.”
Sore point: Before the game, Rose said his neck slightly was stiff after his collision with Detroit Pistons big man Antonio McDyess near the end of Tuesday night’s game.
McDyess was setting a pick along the baseline, and Rose ran into him at full speed. Del Negro thought a moving screen could have been called.
“Not at all,” Rose said when asked whether he was angry about the play.
Along with Rose, forward Andres Nocioni (thigh contusion) missed Wednesday’s practice but played Thursday night. Nocioni struggled in 17 minutes of action, shooting 2-of-8 for seven points.
Not forgotten: Del Negro said the team remembered what Miami did in a Dec. 26 victory against the Bulls, when coach Erik Spoelstra called a time-out with a double-digit lead in the final minute.
Spoelstra, like Del Negro, is a rookie coach, and wanted to get some reserves into the game. Bulls assistants Del Harris and Bernie Bickerstaff were visibly displeased at the time.
“There’s no animosity or anything,” Del Negro said. “But it’s in the back of our minds.”
“I think both teams have much bigger issues to worry about,” Spoelstra said. “I’d be very surprised if it is a theme of the game.”
Mistake prone: Tyrus Thomas suddenly is having trouble taking care of the ball. He had six turnovers Thursday night, giving him 11 in the past two games.
Thomas averages fewer than two turnovers a game, so the recent problems could just be a blip on the radar.