Rose scores 44, Bulls take 2-1 lead
"He's tough to cover anyway," said Atlanta's Jeff Teague, who had the futile task of trying to guard Rose much of the night. "But when his jump shot is falling, he's the MVP."
Rose was dominant from the opening tip, slashing into the lane for a basket that prompted Atlanta to call a timeout before the game was a minute old. He finished off the Hawks midway through the fourth with back-to-back three-pointers, hopping down the court, serenaded by chants of "MVP! MVP" from a hefty contingent of Bulls fans.
"Just attacking the whole game," Rose said. "That was my whole thought process."
Rose made 16 of 27 shots, including four threes. He also had seven assists and five rebounds.
"They beat us up," Atlanta coach Larry Drew said. "They completely beat us up."