NEW YORK - Vinny Del Negro sounded a bit like legendary New York broadcaster Howard Cosell when asked to assess the rookie of the year race before Monday's game against the Knicks.
It's over. It's all over, according to the Bulls coach. Derrick Rose has it won.
"There's not even a conversation as far as I'm concerned," Del Negro said. "I think (Memphis' O.J.) Mayo is having a great year and I think (Miami's Michael) Beasley is an incredibly talented player, but no one's played at the level Derrick's played at from the start to this point. It's not even close."
Rose wasn't quite as certain and insisted he cares far more about making the playoffs.
"There are still a lot of good rookies out there," he said. " If winning games gets me the award, I'll be fine. I could care less about the award, I just want to make the playoffs."
Rose finished with 20 points and 8 assists against the Knicks, but hit just 3-of-11 shots in the second half. This was his third game at Madison Square Garden. Simeon played there once when Rose was in high school, then he faced USC in the Jimmy V Classic last year with Memphis.
Like son, like father: There was no missing Yannick Noah at Monday's game. The former tennis star, current French pop music sensation and father of Bulls center Joakim sat front row at midcourt wearing bright red sweatpants.
His son had a nice game, collecting a season-high 18 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.
"It was a great feeling seeing him and having him support me with my little brother and sister right behind him," Joakim said. "My dad used to take me to games at the Garden when I was a little kid. To be able to play in this atmosphere, there's nothing better."
What about those red pants, which were brighter than the Bulls' road uniforms?
"My dad, his swag is crazy," Noah said with a laugh.
Duhon vs. President: Former Bulls guard Chris Duhon talked about his experience playing in pickup games with Barack Obama, who will be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States on Tuesday. At Duke, Duhon was friends with Reggie Love, now Obama's personal assistant.
"We played a couple times," Duhon said. "A lot of times when they were in Chicago, Sunday was usually their day off. Reggie usually stays at my house, so I would get up and play with them. I wasn't on (Obama's) team, but I never really guarded him."
Duhon is looking forward to the inauguration.
"I'm very proud of him," he said. "He's been through a lot, a lot of adversity. For him to be in the position he's in, I'm speechless. I'm very excited and happy for him."
Knicks' pick clicks: Ex-Bulls center Eddy Curry has yet to play this season, but the Knicks did regain the services of first-round draft pick Danilo Gallinari. The 6-foot-10 Italian sharpshooter, who bears a resemblance to "Karate Kid" Ralph Macchio, scored 9 points against the Bulls, adding 2 steals and a block.
"The best surprise is defensively he doesn't hurt us," coach Mike D'Antoni said.
Bulls horns: Derrick Rose spent Sunday night in New York at a photo shoot for ESPN Magazine. - Coach Vinny Del Negro on the idea of using Joakim Noah as a late-game defensive specialist in recent games. "I don't know if I'd say specialist," Del Negro said. "But I'd say with his length, he can give guys problems at times if he stays down on the pump fake." - The Knicks are getting their money's worth from Chris Duhon. The former Bulls guard ranks second in the league in minutes per game at 39.5, a few seconds behind Atlanta's Joe Johnson. Duhon played 34 minutes against the Bulls.