Rose downplays showdown with CP3

Former Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro is very familiar with Derrick Rose's unique skill set. Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES -- Derrick Rose downplayed any rivalry with Chris Paul before the questions could even pop out of reporters' mouths on Friday night.

"My biggest thing is winning," Rose said. "I could care less about the matchup. In this league now, every point guard is good. So tonight just try to get the win."

While Rose deflected questions about the matchup, others went out of their way to praise two of the best point guards in the league.

"Both are star players in the league," Los Angeles Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. "Both are not only great players, but workers, leaders. Great guys. I have a lot of respect for both of them. [I'm] just starting to work with Chris a little bit, but you see how Derrick's game evolved. And Chris is a tremendous leader and very competitive. That's why they're both two of the top players in the league. Forget about their positions. They'll go at it tonight which will be great, but every year is different and every team is different."

Paul switched coasts and conference after being dealt by the New Orleans Hornets to LA for package headlined by Eric Gordon. Paul's new surroundings don't mean Rose is going to change the way he plays him in any way.

"When you play against him, you've got to stop his passing," Rose said. "He's a guard where he doesn't need to score the ball to win a game. It's hard to stick that. I think him and [Rajon] Rondo are the best [at doing that] in the NBA. They don't have to shoot not a single shot and still can affect the game and give their teammates a lot of confidence. That's something that I would want to put in my game, but it's going to take a little time."

Paul and Rose faced off only once last season -- the Bulls were 2-0 against the Hornets but Paul missed one of the contests with an injury. In their one meeting, a 97-88 Bulls win, Rose went for 23 points and six assists while holding Paul to 15 points on 3-of-10 shooting.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, who is obviously one of Rose's biggest fans, praised the way Paul plays the game as well.

"A guy like that, he's an offense unto himself," Thibodeau said of Paul. "He can make something out of nothing. In terms of executing a pick and roll he's tremendous. He keeps constant pressure on your defense. His decision making is excellent. And he has a great feel for the game too. If he feels that he needs to score more, he'll score more. If he feels like he needs to play-make more he'll do that. He's a fierce competitor. He sets the tone defensively. I have a lot of respect for him."