This wasn’t the way Bulls fans envisioned Derrick Rose’s return from injury.
It wasn’t the way Rose envisioned it either.
The Bulls missed 11 of their first 12 shots and fell behind by 21 points in the first quarter before eventually rallying for a 10-point lead with under four minutes to go in the fourth. Then they collapsed and lost in overtime.
Make that three losses in the last four games.
Chicago shot 39.3 percent from the field, missed 15 of their 22 three-point attempts, bricked nine free throws and committed 20 turnovers for 14 points going the other way.
And nobody could do anything with Carmelo Anthony (43 points, 16-for-31, 4-for-5 on threes, 7-for-9 from the line, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block). ‘Melo also scored the last five points in overtime, including the game-winning three with 8.2 seconds left.
As for Rose, he scored a team-best 29 points but went 8-for-26 from the field and committed a game-worst 8 turnovers. He also had several huge mistakes down the stretch as the Bulls gave up that 10-point lead.
In fact, let’s check out what happened to the Bulls’ “offense” after Taj Gibson’s jumper put Chicago up by 10 with 3:45 of the fourth:
2:57: Rose turnover
2:11: Rose missed 9-footer
1:51: Rose turnover
1:20: Rose missed three-pointer
0:58: Rose missed 10-footer
0:34: Deng 0-for-2 at the line
0:19: Rose 0-for-2 from the line
0:01: Rose missed 22-footer
So, to sum up, 0-for-4 from the field, 0-for-4 at the line, 2 turnovers.
In the words of Sir Charles: That was turrible.
Said Rose: “Free throws, turnovers, that’s the reason why we lost this game. Where I had a lot of turnovers just getting back into rhythm. It was just one of them games … missed [those] free throws and hopefully next time if I get the opportunity I’m going to knock them down.”
It was tough to see Rose struggle. At times, it looked like he didn’t have much life, and he finished 2-for-6 at the rim.
Rose wasn’t the only one struggling. Deng was 4-for-16 from the field — including 0-for-5 on threes — and missed those critical free throws. Rip Hamilton was 3-for-8 and finished with as many fouls (4) and turnovers (3) as points (7). Joakim Noah (10 points, 5 boards, zero assists) had almost no impact on the game (and a game-worst plus-minus score of -14).
It wasn’t all doom and gloom. Chicago’s D was stout — even if ‘Melo couldn’t be stopped — and held New York to 38 percent shooting from the field and 8-for-34 on three-pointers. The Bulls also outrebounded the Knicks 59-47 and owned a 31-20 edge in free throw attempts.
Still, the rhythm and continuity weren’t there. Which, frankly, was to be expected. But it’s still disappointing.
What was even more disappointing was how the Bulls let ‘Melo get a three off at the end of OT instead of forcing him to shoot a two. The only thing the Bulls could not afford to do in that situation was give up a triple. That’s it. That was the kind of mistake you’d expect a high school team to make…not the league’s best team.
Said coach Tom Thibodeau: “You can’t be giving up that shot. It’s the only thing that gets you in trouble is the three. You don’t give it up. You make them drive. You make them take the two.”
But that’s not why the Bulls lost. All-around bad play is.
Said Thibs: “You just have to do the right things. We do the right things, you’re not going to have those problems. You’re not going to have those turnovers. Simple plays: Protect the ball, keep the ball moving, quick decisions, hit the first open man, sustain your spacing, protect the ball, tuck it on the catch, fight for your space, get your space. Simple.”
It should be. Sometimes it’s not.
The good news? The Knicks will be in Chicago on Tuesday. Redemption can come swiftly.