Rose game winner beats Knicks in homecoming


Nov 1

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or their Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

Derrick Rose really didn’t do that, did he? Derrick knows drama, too.

First regular season game back in the United Center since his serious knee injury 18 months ago, the fans erupting like it was a championship celebration when Rose was introduced, and then with the Bulls trailing 81-80 with 5.7 seconds left Rose puts in a ridiculous, running 11-foot floater from the right baseline halfway behind the backboard with seven-foot Tyson Chandler in his face.

To carry the Bulls to an 82-81 victory and their first win of the season in Rose’s official, nationally televised homecoming.

C’mon, we wouldn’t even have made it up that way.

“I want to be known as one of those players,” said Rose.

“When it is my time in the fourth quarter I can’t shy away from shots,” added Rose, who finished with 18 points and six assists on seven of 23 shooting. “I just love being in that position, being in the fourth quarter having the ball in my hands. Making all the decisions I think is going to make me a better player so in the playoffs we’re used to it and used to being in those types of games.

“For me, there’s not pressure,” shrugged Rose with perhaps two dozen reporters gathered around him in the steamy Bulls locker room. “If I miss the shot, I miss it. I just love taking them. I knew it had a good chance. I got enough arc on it and it fell through.”

And even the previous failures during the game helped, Rose said, as he was often denied at the rim by yet another team sagging all its defenders toward Rose.

“Tyson (Chandler with a game high 19 rebounds and four blocks) came over. He made me take a lot of different shots (during the game), and I learned from it,” Rose explained. “(So) later on in the game I was able to shoot over him.”

Carmelo Anthony got one more chance to win it. But without double teaming help, Luol Deng did a good job staying with Anthony’s jab step and the shot came up short to both the relief of the appreciative home fan as well as their excitement.

Though rarely displaying much emotion, Rose was quiet but obviously touched after his shot went through and he was embraced by his teammates with a hug representing the more than 22,000 there.

“It was phenomenal,” said Taj Gibson. “I looked in his face after he made the shot. He was real emotional. I felt for him. After a long year being off, working so hard in the summer, grinding with us in practice. I’m happy for him.”

It was Halloween night, and what a treat for everyone, especially Rose.

You can go home again.

“Coming home tonight and seeing how the fans supported me, it’s a blessing to be in the position I’m in,” said Rose in a pensive moment. “I’m just trying to appreciate it, take it all in and still go out and do my job.”

It was the stuff of movies, the unlikeliest of happy endings in a game, frankly, the Bulls looked like they’d given away blowing a 10-point fourth quarter lead with another poor shooting game and stagnant offense being carried by Rose.

Both Miami and the Knicks ganged up on Rose wherever he went. And the conventional wisdom is Rose is rusty and working his way back shooting 11 for 38 in the two games. Which is not exactly what I saw. I saw an athletic, speedy and determined Rose trying to break through a tangle of arms and legs and bumps and thumps wherever he went as teammates continually came up empty.

In Miami Tuesday it was the brutal second period after Deng and Jimmy Butler got in foul trouble, only Carlos Boozer shooting better than 50 percent. Boozer again was more than 50 percent for 14 points and Deng was eight of 15 for 17 points with six assists.

But both made just one shot beyond 15 feet as the Bulls overall were four of 25 beyond that range. They didn’t make a long jump shot the entire first half, zero for nine beyond 15 feet even as they led 43-38.

Luol Deng

The Bulls were cutting up the Knicks early in a 26-16 start with Deng’s slashing drives against an overmatched Iman Shumpert.

The Bulls were cutting up the Knicks early in a 26-16 start with Deng’s slashing drives against an overmatched Iman Shumpert, long misses and turnovers leading to runouts and Boozer’s late first quarter strong post work dominating Amar’e Stoudemire in his first appearance of the season.

But the Bulls seemed to go away from the post after halftime, playing more of their side and top pick and roll game that led to a deliberate game and two for 15 shooting fourth quarter. That enabled the Knicks, now losers of six straight to the Bulls, to take their first lead since early in the fourth quarter on an Anthony post up turnaround with 4:10 left to give the Knicks a 78-70 lead.

Rose then ended a 12-0 Knicks run with a pair of free throws after Butler and Anthony missed jumpers. But the Knicks were the relentless ones now, Chandler tapping the ball back for offensive rebounds as the home crowd quieted. The Bulls staved off a damaging possession when Anthony and Ray Felton twice missed jumpers. The Knicks had turned to using three guards with rookie Tim Hardaway Jr., who played well, and the Bulls went small to match.

Noah was fouled and made a pair of free throws for an 80-78 Bulls lead with 2:05 left. He finished with six points, 15 rebounds and five assists. Noah played 36 minutes and seemed mostly recovered from his groin issues, though these things tend to worsen after games. Like with Rose, who came up with a neck problem after the Miami game that kept him out of practices since. He wore a brace that looked like headphones in the game, and was held to just under 34 minutes.

But you could hear a note of concern with coach Tom Thibodeau, who never openly questions his players. But Thibodeau obviously was upset about the number of players missing practices, which he suggested accounted for the stagnant offense the past two games. As well as the horrific shooting as the Bulls counting the final exhibition game are now 11 of 60 on threes the last three games with a miserable three of 13 Thursday. You don’t win many games shooting the way the Bulls have.

“We’ve got guys that are capable shooters,” said Thibodeau. “I like the way we are attacking in the paint. We’ve got to play with pace. In the first half, I liked the way we pushed the ball. In the second half, I don’t think we got as many fast break opportunities. The only way you clean that up is you’ve got to practice. So we need everyone to practice. I’m going to keep saying it.”

Anthony then missed again, but Rose was stripped by Shumpert on a drive as the Knicks’ defense collapsed in the lane with no real Bulls shooting threat. The Bulls made two fourth quarter field goals, both by Rose. Yes, he wants the ball, and he’s capable of the big play. But with the offense operating so poorly, the Heat and Knicks took advantage by sagging into the lane and making Rose see multiple bodies. It’s one thing to do to LeBron James. But Rose is a half foot shorter.

Shumpert tied the game at 80 with two free throws with 1:27 left when Rose fouled him after the steal.

Rose then drove again and seemed to be hit, but there was no call. Noah got his hand on a tip but missed. But while the Bulls offense was spotty and shoddy, the defense was impressive with the sort of relentless and multiple efforts Thibodeau prizes. Deng and Butler did great work limiting Anthony to eight of 24 shooting and the Knicks overall at 36 percent.

Noah then forced Anthony into a turnover. But Rose again lost the ball, driving into the thicket of bodies and the ball flying out of bounds. Initially called off the Knicks, a review changed the call with 36 seconds left. Knicks ball.

The Bulls pulled down Chandler, who got two free throws and came up short with the first, giving the Bulls the ball with 10.8 seconds left and trailing 81-80.

“There were three options on the play,” said Thibodeau, though I suspect they were Derrick Martell and Rose. “We just wanted to get a quality shot. We had enough time to get a second shot. Luol did a good job getting the ball in bounds. Carlos and Joakim set good screens. Jimmy delivered the ball. I’ve been around (Rose) long enough; he’s won enough games for us. The only way he’s going to get there is to let him do it and trust that he’ll make the right play.”

Rose drove right with Felton doing well staying close. Chandler was waiting and threw his long arms into Rose’s face as Rose got to the right baseline and began to fall out of bounds as he softly released the shot well above Chandler’s outstretched arms.

Rose hadn’t even been attempting floaters since he returned.

That shot had no business going in. No chance, really.

“I was right there,” said Chandler. “He just made a big time play. I thought I could get a hand on it. He just got it over my hand. I don’t know if he saw the basket to be honest with you.”

“I haven’t seen many guys do that,” added coach Mike Woodson. “A 15-foot floater over a 7-footer.”

“Derrick Rose hit a phenomenal shot over Tyson and over the backboard. It was a prayer, but he made it,” said Anthony.

But there were still prayers from the home folks as with almost six seconds remaining that was plenty of time for a scorer like Anthony. The Bulls took a chance letting Deng handle him alone. But Deng stayed right there, and Anthony didn’t have quite enough to spoil the ending.

“I was just trying to create some space between me and Luol,”Anthony said. “He was playing my 1-2 dribble pull up pretty well. I knew if he backed up a little bit to get space, I had a good chance of that going in. I got the look I wanted. It just didn’t go in.”

Really, you can’t make this stuff up.

Rose showed some speed early like he did against Miami with breakout for scores. The Bulls had 17 fast break points against the Heat and 14 against the Knicks, leading both teams. That’s been a positive thanks to Rose.

But both Miami and the Knicks competed better on the boards and Chandler had eight offensive rebounds. The Bulls outrebounded both teams, but just barely.

“It seems like teams are being more physical with us,” said Gibson. “We haven’t been getting any slack from anyone.”

Carlos Boozer

Boozer again was more than 50 percent for 14 points.

Nazr Mohammed again wasn’t able to play much with the Knicks also using more small lineups. So the Bulls usual edge in rebounding was limited. Plus, the Bulls after that good Boozer stretch late in the first quarter mostly went away from him in trying to exploit some mismatches for Butler, who had limited success. Butler, though, was a game saver with 10 rebounds, two steals and several deflections and aggressive defense. But he’s still hesitant to spread the court with shooting.

In fact, too many of the Bulls players are turning down shots or hesitating, putting more pressure on Rose to take the greater degree of difficulty shots. It wasn’t until Rose made back to back threes early in the second half that the Bulls even made one from distance.

“He (Rose) showed a lot of toughness,” said Thibodeau. ”It was a struggle early on in the game. He found his way at the start of the third. That got him a little rhythm going. He has a lot of confidence. He had the courage to take and make the last play. He kept working the game when things weren’t going his way. Right now we have to count on our defense and rebounding to get us through this. The time to get timing and spacing is to have people on the floor practicing together. That is something we are working towards.”

“We’re trying to find a rotation and work through things right now,” Thibodeau continued. “It’s hard when you go into a game and don’t know who you have. But that’s all part of it.”

Thibodeau must have watched that Allen Iverson retirement ceremony the other night. Because he’s talking about practice. Practice!

But Rose remains, as usual, confident.

“It’s going to be scary when all those shots are falling,” said Rose about his miscues. “I can’t think about it. I’ve got to have quick amnesia. The shots (for the team) are not falling right now. When they do fall, I think we are going to be a dangerous team.”

What do you think? Leave a comment below: