It isn’t often that Derrick Rose is standing on a basketball court as the second-best player from Chicago.
Then again, the Bulls point guard only has to share the hardwood with Anthony Davis twice a season.
Playing his first NBA game in his hometown, Davis lived up to all the hype with 29 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks.
But the Pelicans had no answer for the red-hot Bulls, who won 107-100 on Saturday night for their sixth consecutive victory. Jimmy Butler once again added to his MVP candidacy, scoring 33 points and grabbing five rebounds.
Davis missed the game in Chicago as a rookie two years ago because of a concussion, and last season he was out with a broken hand.
“I felt like we got a lot of easy baskets as a team,’’ said Butler, whose team won the rebounding battle 45-37. “Whenever we’re playing like that we’re really hard to beat.’’
And they have been just that for a few weeks, winning nine of their last 10. They can thank Butler for their hot streak, as the fourth-year guard has lifted his game to new levels.
“[Butler is] looking real comfortable out there and that’s huge for us,’’ Joakim Noah said. “He’s a stud. Not only is he a great scorer, but he’s a top defender in the league. I’m just happy he’s on the Bulls.
“Jimmy is as stubborn as they come. He’s always stubborn and always believed in himself. When he was a rookie, he always believed he was great. Guys like that, those are the ones you have to look out for.’’
Not that Noah didn’t have enough to look out for at the United Center, since he mostly was matched up on Davis. Even when Noah had a hand in his face, Davis consistently hit tough shots.
“[Davis is] a great player, well beyond his years,’’ Noah said. “For somebody to come in, playing in front of your hometown, usually there’s some anxiety. I just saw a lot of composure out of him. Came in, first shot, boom, knocked it down. You can’t give him any open looks at his size. He’s a very talented kid.’’
That was a running theme with the postgame interviews from the Bulls’ locker room.
“Well, it was probably better, and that says a lot,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said, when asked if Davis was as good as advertised. “It’s amazing what he does. The game is easy for him. I shouldn’t say easy, because I know how hard he works to prepare.’’
As for Davis, playing well in his return to Chicago was nice, but it wasn’t even close to what he was looking to accomplish.
“I don’t get into all that,’’ Davis said. “I just want to win. My whole goal coming here was to win the basketball game, and we didn’t, so [we have] to get back to the drawing board and see what we did wrong.’’
What went wrong might be as simple as having the misfortune to face a team that is playing really good basketball.
“They’re good,’’ Davis said of the Bulls. “Possibly the best team in the league. All type of weapons. They’re going to be a tough team to beat.’’