Opening Tip: Rose excited to face Lillard

DENVER -- Derrick Rose is only 25, but he's starting to feel older than some of his counterparts in the league. When the topic of facing Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard for the first time came up late Thursday night, Rose couldn't help but smile at the fact he has been in the NBA long enough that players like Lillard watched him on their way up.

"I'm old," Rose joked. "I'm 25 now. Damn, man. I'm old. I'm stretching, man. I have to stretch before games now."

Despite his words, Rose does take pride in the fact that Lillard, and many others, watched Rose in school to help their own games.

"That's big," he said. "For me, that's what I try to do as a player. I just try to play hard and go out there and try to win games and I'm happy that people pick up on it [and] even see it. With a player like him, what he's done in the league and what he's doing now, it's an honor that he even looked at my game so that's huge."

Friday's game will be a special one for Lillard as well. The reigning Rookie of the Year has been looking forward to playing Rose since he came into the league.

"I watched [Rose] a lot," he said last season. "The thing that stuck out to me is how well he uses his speed and athleticism and changes pace. He gets from zero to 70 like this (snaps fingers). I've been watching that for a while so certain things that I've seen him do let me know that it can be done with my ability to jump and run fast. I think watching after him allowed me to see certain things that would be available with some of the ability I have."

Rose, who is actually only two years older than Lillard, is looking forward to facing the Trail Blazers star as well.

"He's a great young player," Rose said. "Really coming into his own. [He's] playing with a lot of confidence right now and it should be a fun matchup with both teams. They're rolling right now. We had a streak going, we lost tonight, but we can redeem ourselves with [Friday's] game."

Gibson miffed at ejection: Taj Gibson was ejected late in Thursday's loss to the Denver Nuggets by referee Sean Corbin. It was a decision with which he did not agree.

"I was not talking to the ref," Gibson said. "I was just talking to Nate [Robinson]. But the ref, he just bugged out. Me and Nate was talking the whole game back and forth, but it was fun. It was good to see him. We were just joking around."

Gibson, who had already picked up an earlier technical, decided not to argue with Corbin in the end.

"He thought I was talking to him," Gibson said. "I wasn't even talking to him. I was just mumbling talking about Nate, but it is what it is. I didn't argue, I just went out, but he got the whole thing misconstrued."

What's next: The Bulls play the Trail Blazers on Friday night in Portland.

The last word: Coach Tom Thibodeau, on improvements his team needs to make: "I thought the effort was good, rebounding-wise, but offensively we got to make quick decisions, keep the ball moving, and we got to have a balance to our game. It's got to be inside-out, we got to get postups, we got to get dribble penetration. So those are things we can do better."