Bulls should root for Hawks to beat Dwight Homicide, er, Howard

I don't need the Orlando-Atlanta series to go seven games

so the winner supposedly will be too tired to challenge the


. No, I just need Atlanta to win so

Dwight Howard

doesn’t show up and play ever dirtier on

Derrick Rose

than Indiana goof

Jeff Foster


Scout the Bulls’ potential second-round opponents any way you want, but the top priority is keeping Rose healthy, as we’ve seen and had

heart attacks

over. That’s why you want Atlanta to win tonight or Saturday.

Listen, Howard’s the dirtiest quality player in the league, following John Stockton in that unique category that I just made up. Howard regularly pounds Rose with no regard for the ball. He just wants to pulverize Rose, and he does. Rose drives to the hoop and Howard makes like

Dick Butkus

. Ka-boom, Neil Funk. That’s the real ka-boom, or the new ka-boom now that

Stacey King

douses every three-pointer with hot sauce.

(Tangent: The Bulls sell everything these days, so I can’t believe they haven’t cut a deal where King says, “Gimme the Cholula.’’)

Anyway, Howard just wants to ragdoll Rose the way the


’ thugs did. Difference is, Howard sells it better. He also gets away with more because he’s a three-time Dirty Player of the Year, er, Defensive Player of the Year.

Look, both Orlando and Atlanta present problems for the Bulls. Orlando has the best player in that series, but the Bulls seemed happy to let Howard get his 40 while shutting down the


’s deadly three-point arsenal.

Atlanta, meanwhile, is a more talented version of the Pacers --- a long team, a dangerous big man and a fierce perimeter defender. The


’ length has always bothered the Bulls the way the Pacers’ length did in the first round. Long-armed defenders get in passing lanes and poke at the dribble to create turnovers. It took the Bulls three games -- three wasted first halves -- to figure it out. Tell me the Bulls will be smarter in the next round, no matter the opponent.

But the opponent had better be the Hawks, let me tell you.

Al Horford

will score, sure, but he doesn’t bring the criminal element of Howard, who, I believe, was just voted Most Likely to Permanently Maim Someone.