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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bulls blow away Hawks


ATLANTA — Turns out, the Chicago Bulls are more than just a one-man team.

News photo
Tight defense: Atlanta's Josh Smith drives on Chicago's Luol Deng in the first quarter of Game 6 on Thursday night. The Bulls beat the Hawks 93-73 to win the Eastern Conference semifinal series 4-2. AP PHOTO

Derrick Rose sure had plenty of help in this one.

Next up: the Eastern Conference final, against Miami and the Big Three.

Carlos Boozer scored 23 points, Rose doled out 12 assists in more of a supporting role and the Bulls cruised past the Atlanta Hawks 93-73 on Thursday night, wrapping up the East semifinal in six games.

"It's huge for us to get this far," Rose said. "We're happy to get the conference finals, but we're not planning to stop right there."

The Bulls haven't been this far since 1998, when Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were on their way to a second three-peat. Pippen sat near the Chicago bench, relishing a new generation that's carried his old team into contention for another championship.

"When we showed up for training camp, we knew we could be special," Rose said. "We were ready to put in the work and not be concerned with statistics. We just were concerned with winning each night."

As if to prove his point, Rose took a playoff-low 14 shots and finished with 19 points, his second-lowest total of the postseason. This was a textbook performance by the guys around him, each of them comfortable in a supporting role, each of them willing to do the dirty work at the defensive end.

The most impressive number: Chicago had assists on all but seven of its 41 baskets. Or, come to think of it, maybe it was this stat: The Hawks shot just 37 percent (27 of 74) and rarely got an open look.

"If anything, our defense won this game," said Rose, who had been averaging nearly 30 points a game in the playoffs.

At the other end, Boozer kept winding up with the ball with no one around, and kept knocking down jump shots. He went 10-of-16 from the field, grabbed 10 rebounds and handed out five assists.

"D-Rose gets so much attention," said Boozer, who had been bothered by a toe injury and come under criticism at home for inconsistent play. "The 15-footer was open for me. I shot it."

Luol Deng hit some big baskets early and finished with 13 points, plus five steals. Joakim Noah scored 11 and stifled the Hawks with three blocks.

Joe Johnson led Atlanta with 19 points.

Rivers staying with Celts

Boston AP

The Celtics are working on a deal with coach Doc Rivers that would bring him back for another run at an NBA title with Boston's aging Big Three — and then keep him on the bench to work with the rebuilt roster that is expected to follow.

The two sides are nearing agreement on a deal for "more than two or three years," a person with knowledge of the negotiations said on Thursday, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the details were still being worked out.

Celtics spokesman Jeff Twiss confirmed that a deal was being discussed, but said no announcement was imminent, and general manager Danny Ainge said on the radio that the sides were working on a long-term deal.

Neither Rivers nor his agent, Lonnie Cooper, responded to messages seeking comment.

But Rivers, whose contract expires at the end of this season, told players after being eliminated from the playoffs on Wednesday night that he would return.

"I'm going to put this on the record," point guard Rajon Rondo said after the 97-87 loss to Miami eliminated the Celtics from the postseason. "Doc already committed that he was coming back with me so he can't go back against his word."

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