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Playoff Box Score: Bulls Drop Game One

By Benjy Lipsman in News on May 3, 2011 2:00PM

While sources were confirming that he'll be named MVP today, Derrick Rose didn't play like one in the first half of Monday's game against the Atlanta Hawks. Despite the absence of Kirk Hinrich, Atlanta shut Rose down early while Joe Johnson's career night helped the Hawks down the Bulls 103-95 in game one of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Bulls were sluggish out of the gate, missing their first nine shots as Atlanta opened up an early 10 point lead. Rose, outplayed in the first half by Hinrich's replacement Jeff Teague, didn't score score until about half way through the second quarter. The Bulls chipped away at the lead and cut the Hawks' lead to just one at halftime, sparked in large part by Luol Deng's 17 first half points. The Rose we expect on the court every game returned in the second half, where he scored 19 of his 24 points. Carlos Boozer, nursing a turf toe injury, scored 14 and grabbed eight boards while Joakim Noah chipped in 11 points and nine rebounds.

While the Bulls grabbed a lead of as many as six points in the third quarter they were just unable to stay in front of Atlanta. Johnson scored 34 points, including a perfect 5-5 from three point range. Former Bulls guard Jamal Crawford scored 22 points coming off the bench. The hot shooting Hawks were just too much for the Bulls on Monday night. Adding injury to insult, Rose again tweaked his sprained ankle in the game's final seconds, forcing him to hobble off the court after time had expired.

Tuesday is an off day, although one in which a gimpy Rose is expected to be named as the NBA's MVP. Hopefully the ankle will respond to treatment and his MVP form will return once he receives his hardware, right before the two teams take the court at the United Center again Wednesday night. Game 2 begins at 7:00 p.m. (TNT, ESPN AM 1000).