Fresh ink: January 20, 2009

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K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: “If you want a reason why the Bulls haven’t put together a three-game win streak since April 2007 or have failed to win consecutive road games this season, this is as good as any: Their mental lapses often drop their basketball IQ to that of a rec-league squad. Failure to secure loose balls. Failure to recognize a hot hand. Failure to heed time and score, leading to bad shot selection. All those missed opportunities in Monday’s matinee added up to an aggravating 102-98 loss to the Knicks that mostly obscured what is clearly better effort of late. Yes, Chris Duhon gutted out back spasms to score 19 points, including the game-winning layup with 31.2 seconds left. But if the Bulls want the real reason they failed to win a very winnable game, they need to look past former Bulls to the current ones. ‘It’s frustrating and it seems like that’s a habit almost,’ guard Ben Gordon said. ‘We do everything to stay in the game. And then when the game is on the line, we don’t come through.’”

Joshua Robinson of the New York Times: “The list of Derrick Rose’s trips to Madison Square Garden sketches a clear outline of his brief, already illustrious career. At the top are a handful of appearances with his Chicago high school, Simeon Career Academy, where he won two state titles. Then, in college at Memphis, Rose returned to the Garden twice, to take down Connecticut and Southern California. That set up his visit in June, when his hometown Bulls made him the No. 1 pick in last year’s N.B.A. draft. And on Monday, barely two years removed from his high school days, Rose took the Garden stage for the first time as a professional, the cream of this season’s rookie crop. With his baggy Chicago Bulls jersey hanging out of his shorts, Rose has looked so comfortable in the league — and under the Garden lights — that he even surprised himself. ‘I didn’t know I was going to play this way,’ he said before posting 20 points and 8 assists in Chicago’s 102-98 loss to the Knicks. ‘But I’m happy that I am.’”

John Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times: “The NBA regular season is only half over, but Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro already has declared the race for the league’s Rookie of the Year award over. He has his point guard, Derrick Rose, as a clear winner over O.J. Mayo, Michael Beasley or any other contender. ‘There’s not even a conversation as far as I’m concerned,’ Del Negro said Monday before the Bulls’ 102-98 loss to the New York Knicks. ‘Mayo’s having a great year, and Beasley is an incredibly talented player and is playing well. But no one’s played at the level Derrick’s played from the start to this point. Not even close in my opinion.’”

Mitch Lawrence of the Daily News: “Taken No. 1 overall last June, Rose could be the first Bull since Michael Jordan 24 years ago to win the coveted rookie honor outright. ‘If it comes and we’re winning, then I’ll take it,’ he said after losing to the Knicks, 102-98, in his Garden pro debut. ‘But if we don’t make it to the playoffs, it really wouldn’t mean nothing.’ That’s exactly the kind of attitude you want from a guy who has ‘franchise player’ written all over. The Garden matinee crowd saw why, even if Rose keeps playing at this level, he might not get his team to the playoffs.”

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