CHICAGO – Derrick Rose elicited oohs, aahs ... and groans.
Chicago Bulls' Drew Gooden right, goes up for a shot against Milwaukee Bucks' Richard Jefferson in the first quarter of the teams' season opener NBA basketball game in Chicago, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008.
(AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Luol Deng and Ben Gordon provided enough big shots to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 108-95 victory over former coach Scott Skiles and the Milwaukee Bucks in the season-opener Tuesday.
Deng scored 21 points and Gordon added 18 to offset Michael Redd's 30.
Rose, the No. 1 draft pick out of Memphis and a Chicago native, wowed fans with his quickness and strength but mixed in enough mistakes to remind them he is a work in progress. He finished with 11 points, nine assists and four turnovers.
Deng shot 8-for-13 after signing a six-year contract in the offseason, and Gordon scored 10 in the fourth quarter, making new coach Vinny Del Negro's debut a successful one.
Watching from the visitors sideline was Skiles, who led Chicago to three straight playoffs but was fired in December following a slow start. The Bucks jumped at the chance to hire the coach after going 26-56 last season, signing him to a four-year deal in April in hopes that he could inject the tough defense and unselfish play that characterized the Bulls before their collapse. But there is clearly work to do.
The Bucks went 1-7 in the preseason, capping it with a loss at the United Center last week. This one counted, but the result was no better.
Redd dominated after winning a gold medal with Team USA at the Olympics but it was a rough night for Richard Jefferson. Acquired in a trade with New Jersey, he scored 15 points but hit just Five of 17 shots.
The Bulls were trailing 73-72 late in the third quarter when Deng hit a jumper from the top and a running bank shot. After two free throws by Redd, Kirk Hinrich hit a 3-pointer with 32 seconds left to make it 82-75.
Gordon then started the fourth with a 3 that made it a 10-point game, and Chicago maintained control the rest of the way.
Hinrich scored 15 points in a reserve role, while Tyrus Thomas added 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Rose, who led Memphis to the NCAA championship game in his lone college season, heard a loud roar from the crowd during introductions. Then, reality delivered a hard smack.
Seconds into the game, Redd picked off a pass and scored on a fadeaway, and a collective shiver went through the crowd just over a minute later. Rose, who left the preseason finale against Milwaukee with a minor hip injury, clutched his left thigh after being fouled. He hit one of two free throws and eased any concerns moments later when he cut around two defenders for a transition layup.
At times, he looked like a star. Other times, he looked like a rookie — albeit one with promise.
The Bulls are looking for Rose to lead them out of the mess they created last season, when they went from 49 wins to 49 losses while bickering with each other and the coaches. They took him over Michael Beasley and gave him the keys to their offense.
Notes:@ Bucks C Andrew Bogut, bothered lately by a sprained left ankle, had nine points and seven rebounds. PG Luke Ridnour started and delivered seven points and four assists after missing practice with a back injury. ... Del Negro decided to start the 6-foot-7 Thabo Sefolosha at shooting guard and bring Hinrich off the bench, adding some height to the starting front court and giving the second unit an experienced ball-handler. ... The Bulls named Hinrich, Deng and Drew Gooden captains.