(WSCR) – Derrick Rose has been a human highlight reel so far this season. The third-year point guard has raised his game to an MVP-caliber level, and brought the Chicago Bulls along with him.
Rose has helped the Bulls get off to their best start since Michael Jordan last led the franchise on a championship run.
Rose has his chance to show the former Bulls icon his talents first-hand Wednesday night when Chicago visits the Jordan-owned Charlotte Bobcats.
It’s likely Jordan will be in his customary courtside seat when the team he helped lead to six NBA titles looks for its third straight victory and eighth in 10 games.
Chicago (25-12) hasn’t started this well since the 1997-98 season, when the Bulls opened 26-11 on their way to finishing 62-20 and winning the last of their six titles.
Rose has blossomed into a legitimate MVP candidate, averaging 24.3 points and 8.1 assists. Utah’s Deron Williams is the only other player averaging at least 20 points and eight assists.
Rose helped the Bulls overcome a 12-point halftime deficit by scoring 29 points in a 95-82 victory over Detroit on Monday. His performance included a highlight-reel, one-handed slam off an alley-oop from Ronnie Brewer, igniting the comeback.
“When you see somebody on the team playing with that much energy, so much intensity, it is contagious,” Brewer said. “Guys want to match that level. When you see him make a dunk like that it makes you want to dive after a loose ball. It’s like a snowball effect. Guys pick up off that and it builds and it builds.”
Carlos Boozer added 27 points and 11 rebounds for his 14th double-double in 22 games since returning from a broken hand. He’s been particularly hot in the last three games, averaging 26.7 points and 11.3 rebounds while shooting 68.6 percent from the field.
Good defense has keyed Chicago’s last two wins, limiting Boston and Detroit to an average of 80.5 points on 38.3 percent shooting.
However, both of those games were at home. The Bulls are looking to avoid a season-high third straight road loss after surrendering averages of 100.5 points and 52.7 percent shooting to sub-.500 teams New Jersey and Philadelphia.
The Bobcats (14-21) are averaging 102.7 points during a season-best three-game win streak.
They’re 5-2 under interim coach Paul Silas, who took over after Jordan fired Larry Brown on Dec. 22.
“The energy level is really going up,” Silas said.
Charlotte hopes to have more fan support Wednesday than it did in a 96-82 win over Memphis on Monday, when it played in front of a paltry home crowd due to a snowstorm which hit the area throughout the day.
D.J. Augustin had 18 points and nine assists, and he seems to have benefited the most from the coaching change. He’s averaging 19.6 points since Silas took over, compared to 12.6 under Brown.
“We’re younger and we have to play a little faster,” said Stephen Jackson, who had 27 points. “The makeup of the team is different and I think now with Paul as coach the young guys have more confidence to go out there and play basketball and not worry about coming out of the game.”
Silas is hoping for the return of Gerald Wallace, who has missed four straight games and nine of 11 nursing an injured ankle.
The Bulls have beaten the Bobcats in four of the last five meetings entering the first matchup this season, but they’ve lost three of four in Charlotte.
Copyright 2010 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. STATS LLC and The Associated Press contributed to this article. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.