PHILADELPHIA—When the highlight shows roll on the Bulls' 103-92 victory Sunday over the 76ers, they will focus on Derrick Rose's spectacular block, ankle-breaking drive and one-handed alley-oop dunk — understandably so.
Rose's full-length sprint to block Andre Miller's dunk from behind forced mouths agape. His crossover dribble almost tore Miller's ankle ligaments and drew gasps. And his one-handed jam off a lob from Ben Gordon brought the Bulls' bench to its feet and smiles to players' faces.
"I'm not worried about all that," Rose said. "I did a simple little play, and that's it. I'm just worried [that] we got the win."
Just as Rose downplayed his feats, which included his first points-assists double-double, those highlight shows would downplay the Bulls' most complete effort of the season.
Rallying from a 15-point second-quarter deficit, the Bulls shot 52.1 percent off 26 assists. They harassed Philadelphia into 37.5 percent second-half shooting. And they received contributions from multiple sources to cap a 3-4 circus trip, the Bulls' second-best mark since 1998 behind a 3-3 showing in 2005-06.
"Considering the past history, 3-4 is fine," coach Vinny Del Negro said. "I thought we actually could've done better with a couple games we let slip away in the fourth quarter. ... And I feel we're improving. I thought everybody contributed [Sunday]."
Before slowing with second-half cramping, Drew Gooden had 20 points and 12 rebounds. Gordon scored 11 of his team-high 21 points in the first 6 minutes 23 seconds of the third quarter. Larry Hughes came off the bench to score 16 points.
Even forgotten man Tyrus Thomas contributed eight points and two blocks in an active performance that slowed Thaddeus Young.
"We just continue to play hard," Gordon said. "We don't hang our heads. And we can definitely play better. I don't think we've scratched the surface of what kind of team we can be."
Sharing the ball like this would help.
For once, the Bulls recognized and rode hot hands. Gooden scored 10 in a 20-2 second-quarter run that brought the Bulls back in it. Gordon had his third-quarter flurry. And Rose, who had 18 points and 10 assists, scored six in a 14-1 run that closed the third quarter and put the Bulls up 17.
"He's from Chicago, right?" joked 76ers coach Maurice Cheeks, a DuSable High graduate. "That might have something to do with it."
Cheeks knows that's not it, and he joined the long chorus of opponents who praised Rose at every stop of the seven-game trip.
"For a rookie, he has great command of his team," Cheeks said. "That's what stands out to me. Rarely do you see rookies have that command.
"He seems to have knowledge of the game, too — when to push it, when to pass, when to pull up for the jumper."
Rose wouldn't hear any of it. Along with his teammates, he's too busy trying to rebuild the Bulls, one shrug at a time.
"We played kind of well," Rose said. "We're moving the ball and playing team basketball right now, and that's what it's all about."