In yesterday’s warmup game for the FIBA world championships, Team USA eked out an 86-85 win over Spain in Madrid. What a way to celebrate National Tooth Fairy Day…thanks Team USA!
I know. The final score isn’t very impressive considering the expectations for any squad named Team USA. But in all fairness, Spain – the defending world champs — suffered only their first loss in nine games. And Spain did have the whole home country advantage thing going for them.
From the perspective of a Bulls fan, the bigger story was the play of Derrick Rose. Mr. Skittles got the starting nod and came through with a big-time game. His stats weren’t other-worldly — 13 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks — and he struggled to hold onto the ball (5 turnovers). But as John Schuhmann of NBA.com wrote: “In the end, Derrick Rose won the game with his penetration, scoring his team’s final four points off high screen-and-rolls.”
Kevin Durant (25 points, 9-for-16, and two big blocks on Spain’s final possession) grabbed most of the glory, but Rose was the crunch-time scorer. According to Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: “Rose gave the U.S. a 2-point lead with 39 seconds left with a left-handed drive into the lane and layup over Marc Gasol. After a 3-point play by one-time Memphis Grizzlies guard Juan Carlos Navarro put Spain up by 1, Rose rocketed down the right side of the lane and was fouled by Gasol. Rose’s 2 free throws with 19 seconds on the clock turned out to be the winning points.”
Here’s that layup over Gasol:
You have to figure that Rose’s willingness and ability to seize the moment on a team of proven NBA ballers — including a potential MVP-level player like Durant — is a good sign of things to come for the Bulls.
Said Rose: “This is something I will never forget, playing against great players, a veteran team that knew what they were doing out there. It was a great challenge, and we should take this and run with it.”
Regardin his clutch free throws, Rose said: “I’ve got to hit ‘em. As your legacy goes on, this is something people are going to remember me for over here if they don’t ever see me play anymore.”