I have to tell you, as great as he’s been playing, it’s been hard to feel really good about the Derrick Rose experience lately. He’s been getting killed across the Internet. Rose’s game has been dissected (by which I mean shot full of holes) ad nauseam because of his MVP candidacy. Every day seems to feature a new “Derrick Rose is not the MVP” story (even if they all say the same things). It’s been overwhelming.
I’m glad Derrick isn’t paying any attention.
Last night, Rose was huge all game long, especially when his team needed him the most. Playing on the second night of back-to-back games after a close win over a hyped up Pistons team (because of Dennis Rodman’s jersey retirement ceremony), the Bulls were a step or two slow on defense. Seriously, not many teams come into the United Center and score over 100 points on 50 percent shooting.
Fortunately, where there’s a Rose, there’s a way.
Derrick scored 15 points in the third quarter when the Raptors were trying to rally. In the final 5:33 of the fourth quarter, he scored 6 points and tallied an assist on three straight possessions to help the Bulls hold on for the win.
Said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau: “Derrick has done that all year. Whatever the game calls for, he is going to provide. He set the tone for us. We were flat most of the night and Derrick came up with huge plays throughout the game.”
Added Jerryd Bayless: “That’s what an MVP is I guess. I think he should be it. I can’t speak highly enough about him.”
Now I’ll let the numbers do the talking. From ESPN Stats and Information:
Rose scored 36 points, had 10 assists and as a bonus added 3 blocks. He is just the sixth different player over the last 25 seasons to finish a game with 35 points, 10 assists and 3 blocks.
The only other active players to have done it are Dwyane Wade (six times), LeBron James (three), and Vince Carter.
This was Rose’s sixth game this season with 30 points and 10 assists, the second most by a Bulls player in any season over the last 25 years.
The only other player with more such games in a season for Chicago during that span — you guessed it — was Michael Jordan.
Apparently, Rose was inspired by some shennanigans that went on back in February, when the Raptors beat the Bulls in Joakim Noah’s first game back from thumb surgery.
Said Rose: “I just remember them celebrating after they won back in Toronto. When you see people celebrating when they normally don’t do that if you watch other games after they win, it kind of gets to you, especially being the person that I am. I just try to feed off of anything, where by nature I’m just a quiet guy trying to get along with a lot of people.”
Consider it a lesson: Don’t make Rose angry. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.
Admittedly, it wasn’t a great defensive game for the Bullies, Rose included (despite those three blocks and a steal). No excuses, of course, but that’ll happen on the second night of back-to-backs, especially minus a major defensive cog like Noah. But it’s a win. And it kept the Bulls three games up on Miami and 3.5 games ahead of Boston in the race for the first seed in the East.
Said Thibs: “You have to win different ways. The bottom line is getting the win. They were short-handed. They played extremely well. They played hard, they played smart, they played unselfishly. They put a lot of pressure on us, and in the end, I thought we did the things that we needed to do.”
By the way, although Rose had a great game, I don’t want to undervalue the rest of the team. Carlos Boozer had his third strong game in a row (18 points, 10 rebounds) and “Do-All” Deng did what he so often does (17 points, 7-for-11, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, and a steal). The Bench Mob was fantastic (35 points, 22 rebounds, 7 assists), most notably Taj Gibson (15 poins, 6-for-11, 9 rebounds) and Kyle Korver (10 points, 3-for-4, and back-to-back jump shots down the stretch). And although his stats weren’t overwhelming, Chicago outscored Toronto by 17 points during Omer Asik’s 18 minutes of PT.
Four games from 60 wins.