In his Rookie Challenge preview, David Thorpe said: “If Rose didn’t have to fly in after his Thursday night game, I’d expect him to dominate much of the action with his dribble-attack game. Or his improved midrange game. Plus his acrobatic finishes at the rim. But since he plays so many minutes for the Bulls, and this game is essentially a back-to-back for him, there’s a chance he’ll chill and let his teammates do the fun stuff.”
Thorpe was right on the money. Rose played fewer minutes than any Rookie starter (20:34). He had a team-high 7 assists — and only Rodney Stuckey of the Sophomore team had more (with 9) – but scored only 4 points on 1-for-5 shooting. He never looked to force the action or assert himself on offense. (Defense isn’t played in the Rookie Challenge, unless by accident.) Most of the time, he was content to bring the ball up and pass it off as soon as he reached the three-point arc.
According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Rose didn’t sleep overnight and got only three hours of sleep on his 6 a.m. flight. So sure, he was tired. But fellow rook Michael Beasley was in pretty much the same boat, having played (and played big) in the Heat’s Thursday night win over the Bulls in Chicago. Beasley, however, scored a Rookie team-high 29 on 11-for-22 shooting. In fact, only Kevin Durant of the Sophomore team put up more points (a rookie-sophomore record 46 on 17-for-25).
Of course, Thorpe predicted that too: “Beasley might be thrilled at the chance to show off his offensive game without being in D-Wade’s shadow. Although on the Heat he’s just another guy, he’s a very respected talent on this team.” That dude must have a time machine or something.
Overall, the Rookie Challenge is pretty meaningless, so I don’t want to make too much out of Rose’s performance. But the one thing that often worries me about Derrick is his “quiet leader” mentality. He doesn’t always have the hard edge/killer instinct that you typically see in the all-time greats. Despite the limited sleep and general lack of importance in the game, I would have liked to see him assert himself against his closest peers and rookie rivals like Beasley.
Bonus quotage:Here’s what Rose had to say about the game: “It was fun. The crowd got me into it even though I wasn’t really producing. Just being a part of it was amazing. I just want to have fun and watch how players react to certain things. Watch LeBron [James] — he’s my favorite player — and see how he acts toward fans and media. I never thought I’d be here. You think about playing in the NBA, but you never think about playing in the All-Star Game. For me to have this opportunity, it’s a blessing. Hopefully, one day I can be playing with the big boys.”
Melissa Isaacson of the Chicago Tribune: “Given two chances in the final 6.5 seconds to defeat the Bulls on Thursday night at the United Center, the Miami Heat knew precisely what it was doing the second time around. Watching what the Bulls did not do defensively on Miami’s previous inbounds play, the Heat was smarter when it got the ball again with 3.5 seconds left. This time when Shawn Marion inbounded the ball, he not only made sure to get it to Dwyane Wade, but Marion cut straight to the basket for a return pass and scored on a ridiculously easy game-winning slam when Tyrus Thomas moved up to cover Wade and left Marion open. Looking for three quarters like they already had left for the All-Star break, the Bulls’ 95-93 loss was still another lesson of the old too-little, too-late variety.”
Brian Hanley of the Chicago Sun-Times: “The Bulls had trouble taking care of the ball throughout this 95-93, last-second loss to the Miami Heat. The last of the Bulls’ 19 turnovers came with 3.5 seconds left and the game tied. Dwyane Wade stole Thabo Sefolosha’s inbound pass intended for Ben Gordon, who led all scorers with 34 points. Wade called time as he was falling out of bounds in front of the Heat bench. … Derrick Rose wasn’t open because he wasn’t in the game at the time.”
Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: “No way Derrick Rose shouldn’t be on the court when the Bulls took possession with 4.7 seconds left. That’s plenty of time to set up a drive to the basket. The Bulls made their comeback with three guards on the floor – Rose, Ben Gordon and Kirk Hinrich – to go with Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah. Thabo Sefolosha and Luol Deng came in for Gordon and Rose during the late defensive possessions, so Vinny Del Negro decided to leave Sefolosha in to throw the inbounds pass. After watching the replay, Hinrich was basically unguarded near midcourt, so Thabo had a better option than trying to lob it over Wade to get to Gordon in the corner. If Rose catches a pass from Hinrich at midcourt with 4.7 seconds on the clock, plenty of things could happen.”
Nick Hut of the Northwest Herald: “The Bulls were pretty sure that they would not regret making Derrick Rose the top pick in last year’s draft instead of Michael Beasley. The choice has paid off, with Rose figuring prominently into the conversation for the Rookie of the Year award while Beasley has been solid but not spectacular for the Miami Heat. Thursday night, with Beasley and the Heat in town to face the Bulls, the gap was not as clear. Rose scored 18 points to go with six assists, and Beasley made 9 of 10 shots off the bench to finish with 21 points and seven rebounds. ‘He was very good for them tonight,’ Rose said. ‘Him, [Dwyane] Wade and [Shawn] Marion were all very good, and those are the guys that can really carry that team.’”
Mike North and Dan Jiggetts of the Chicago Sun-Times: “Why do the Suns want to move a six-year guy who can score and rebound? Well, he has had two serious leg injuries that required surgery. And his aloofness in the locker room and lack of leadership have been questioned. Stoudemire is so good, yet the Suns want to trade him. Something isn’t right. Stoudemire has played in the league six years, but his legs say 12.”
More Brian Hanley from the Chicago Sun-Times: “Speaking of Hughes, it seems like time to send him home. He has been inactive for five games as the Bulls try to trade him. On Tuesday, he arrived in the locker room 20 minutes after players are supposed to report for a game. On Wednesday, he left while coach Vinny Del Negro called a practice-ending huddle on the Berto Center court. On Thursday, Hughes spent the game not on the bench but in a United Center lounge.”
Thomas Francis of the Broward Palm Beach New Times: “Storylines galore: The last game of the season’s first half, matching up not just the two guys that the Bulls had to choose from with the first pick in the 2008 Draft but a rematch of the two point guards who collided in last year’s NCAA title game — Derrick Rose and Mario Chalmers, who’s been looking like a second round steal and who gives Rose fits as a defender. Also, both teams are battling off court to acquire Suns star forward Amare Stoudemire. But the real storyline: ‘Luvabulls’ dancer Shanon Lersch against Heat dancer (and Boca native) Ashley Allen, both of whom were picked to be in this month’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. Before we go to the game coverage, a promise: The cheerleader from the winning team will do a video victory dance for Juice readers.”