Bulls' Rose has a thorny finish to USA Camp


Jul 26

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LAS VEGAS—So now the guessing begins, though it will go on for another year. Who gets added to the USA Basketball team that will play in the 2010 World Championships and defend the Olympic gold medal in London in 2012?

“I think I played all right,” said Bulls guard Derrick Rose. “You always can give a little more. Hopefully (it was) enough to get me on the team. Everybody is out there making plays. Everyone was out there trying to get that spot on that team.”

It was a relatively quiet game for Rose, who had six points, two assists and four turnovers as his USA White team lost 100-81 to USA Blue in a scrimmage at UNLV.

It was the wrap up of a three-day mini-camp here to help determine who’ll fill three or four places likely to be open on the USA Basketball team.

Managing director Jerry Colangelo said he and his staff will come up with a roster of about two dozen in November and then have another mini-camp next July to narrow down a team. This camp was to give the staff a head start on picking a team, and the consensus is Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, who led the winning team with 20 points and eight rebounds, is the leading candidate for one spot.

Rose played well in the two days of drills and scrimmages, but wasn’t particularly sharp in Saturday’s game.

“It was fun,” said Rose. “Too bad we lost. I’ve got to get back in condition. The big thing for me was pushing the ball, trying to play defense and getting my teammates open. I have to become a better leader, be more vocal. I think that comes with experience.”

Rose admitted he’s had some issues with tendinitis in his knee, like last summer, but that abates as he plays more.

“The coaches were telling me to pick up on defense,” said Rose. “It’s kind of hard for me now because when I start getting back in condition my tendinitis starts to hurt a little bit because I’m not in condition. When I first start back it hurts a little bit. Then when I start getting back in condition it gets back right.”

But Rose clearly played hard.

He was sporting a swollen lip after the game, courtesy, he said, of being headbutted during a scrum for a rebound. He said he didn’t get the license number.

“This is my first injury in a long time,” Rose said. “It was bleeding, but it went away (quickly).”

Rudy Gay played on Rose’s USA White team in the so called “Showcase,” and led all scorers with 27 points on 11 of 12 shooting with numerous dunks. Though Gay was impressive throughout the three days, he’s in a tough spot as the coaches want a point guard and big man and forwards Durant and Andre Iguodala are considered favorites at the wing position.

“It has to be in the back of everyone’s mind,” Gay said about the competition among some two dozen players for maybe four spots. “This is bigger than Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies, Chicago Bulls, bigger than that. This is about your country. I think everyone gave their all and tried as hard as they could. Now it’s up to them to decide who they want on the team. For me it’s always been a dream to be on this team, seeing Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, those guys win the gold back in the day. (But) nobody really wants to talk about it.”

Rose is believed to be in competition with Devin Harris, who was out with an ankle sprain, and Russell Westbrook for the point guard spot. Rose is considered to have a slight edge given the team wants to add some young players to complement the veterans remaining and is more a pure point guard than Westbrook. Westbrook pushed Rose hard in Saturday’s game and picked off a pair of inbounds passes when Rose didn’t come back to the ball fast enough. Though Westbrook also committed four turnovers.

Greg Oden led all rebounders with 10, but often lost Brook Lopez, who had 18 points. Other than Durant and Gay, no one was truly impressive, though Philadelphia’s Thaddeus Young has some nice moments and Utah’s Ronnie Brewer had six steals, thus still leaving the season ahead a further test and Rose hopeful of his chances.

Rose was wearing a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball cap after the game, but denied he’s changed baseball allegiances despite working out now regularly in Santa Monica.

“I just like hats,” said Rose. “The Sox always are my favorite team. If anything, I like L.A. It’s just a fashion statement. Don’t worry. I’ll always be a Sox fan.”

Rose is a movie buff and said he most liked watching “17 Again” this weekend as he isn’t old enough to gamble here.

“It’s about when he was younger he was a real popular super star high school guy,” offered Rose as it was suggested he begin movie reviews. “When he was older he realized how wrong he was and they gave him another opportunity to go back to high school and treat people right. He’s there with his kids. He gets to see the whole experience all over again.” Rose said he enjoyed the movie and might watch it again, but it doesn’t replace any of his Will Smith favorites.

Rose said he’s become close working out with Durant and Durant said he’s enjoyed his time with Rose.

“I’m in love with his game,” said Durant. “He plays hard, he’s quick, athletic. We make each other better. Watching him helps me out. He’s a quiet guy like me, so we kind of clicked. He’s a great player. He’s the point guard of the future and I love the way he plays the game.”

Rose hopes it will be as teammates in Turkey in 2010 and London in 2012.

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