Before I start gushing, let me state up front that it concerns me — and I mean a lot — when a starting point guard plays 47 minutes and finishes with 5 turnovers and only 4 assists. Those were Derrick’s final numbers. And you can’t blame the poor shooting of his teammates. As a team, the Bulls hit nearly 58 percent of their field goals.
Of course, that last stat was enhanced by the fact that Rose went 15-for-25 from the field.
Let’s face it: D-Rose flat out caught fire.
And his timing was pretty good. Rose scored a game-high 33 points, but he scored 11 of those points in the third quarter and 12 of them in the fourth. During the third period, those points were critical because it looked like the Trail Blazers were preparing to pull away. The fourth was just a slug fest, and Chicago might have been knocked out minus Rose’s heroics.
Derrick had a few semi-spectacular layups — I really don’t think anybody in the league can keep him from the basket in a one-on-one situation — but he was only 3-for-8 at the rim. Rose actually did his best work from 10-15 feet (3-for-3) and from 16-23 feet (8-for-11).
And to think: people doubted his jump shot.
Rose has worked hard on developing his jumper…and that work has paid off. Last season, Rose shot 47 percent inside 10 feet, 38 percent from 10-15 feet and 43 percent from 16-23 feet. This year, his percentages are 59, 46 and 42. Sure, his long-distance jumpers have held steady, but those are pretty major improvements in the closer regions.
Derrick’s driving ability and the development of his pull-up jumper means that — as long as he isn’t double-teamed or trapped by opposing defenses — he can get his jumper off any time he wants it. And he’s getting more creative. Against Portland, he hit a running bank shot and a leaning floater off a curl.
Not only has he developed a wider range of offensive weapons, Rose really is becoming a clutch player. He’s learned to lay low in the first half and then turn it on in the third and fourth quarters. His development has really been a joy to watch.
Now if he could just improve his floor game a little…
…but now I’m just picking nits. Rose has skills and the willingness to work not only to develop them but to become a leader and clutch player. Man, the Bulls sure got lucky to win the 2008 NBA Draft. I am completely and totally embarrassed to admit I kind of wanted them to take Michael Beasley.
And, quite frankly, Rose could have (and probably should have) won the game at the end of regulation. However, his layup went astray thanks to a little uncalled contact from LaMarcus Aldridge. I know referees don’t want to “decide games” and all that, but come on. A foul’s a foul, right?
Anyway, as well as Rose played, the Blazers shut him down in overtime. They trapped Derrick and ran extra guys at him from every angle. Fortunately, Luol Deng picked up the slack by hitting a couple clutch jumpers, a free throw and throwing down a breakaway jam with one second left that finally finished Portland off.
Luol finished with 23 points on 8-for-13 shooting to go along with 7 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal and a blocked shot. But just as importantly, he played some really tough defense on Brandon Roy. Roy finished with 23 points himself, but he shot only 8-for-19. Deng forced Roy into some very hotly contested jumpers. What more can you ask?
LaMarcus Aldridge — who, as we all know, could have been a Bull had John Paxson not been fixated on Tyrus Thomas — haunted the team that could have drafted him by scoring a season-high 32 points on 15-for-23 shooting. Aldridge pretty much had his way with Taj Gibson and Brad Miller. It wasn’t until Vinny Del Negro sicced Joakim Noah on Aldridge in the fourth quarter that the big man started to struggle.
Asked when the tide turned against him, Aldridge said: “When he [Noah] picked up his intensity. I was kind of fatigued.”
If there was any question how much the Bulls need Noah on the floor, the 27 minutes he logged against Portland answered it. He cooled off Aldridge, scored 8 points, dished out 4 assists and grabbed a co-game-high 11 rebounds. Marcus Camby also had 11 boards, but he played 42 minutes. The most telling stat, however, was Jo’s plus-minus number: +11. Meanwhile, the starting lineup had a net plus-minus score of -8.
I concede that Noah probably shouldn’t be playing on that bum foot. But man, the Bulls need him.
These almost cost Chicago the game. The Bulls gave up 26 points off 21 turnovers. Andre Miller and Camby (3 steals each) had their hands everywhere, tipping passes and disrupting shots. Chicago actually built a 13-point lead in the second quarter (37-24), but they went on to commit eight turnovers during that period.
The Blazers seemed to run out on every one of them and ended up scoring 12 points of the Bulls’ miscues during that 12-minute stretch. All the turnovers offset Chicago’s 43-29 advantage on the boards.
The Bulls won the game thanks to some very hot outside shooting. Chicago went 1-for-6 from downtown but 21-for-33 from 16-23 feet. This was thanks primarily to Rose (8-for-11), Deng (5-for-6) and Kirk Hinrich (5-for-7). The outside shooting was critical to this win…but I don’t think the Bulls can count on that kind of marksmanship every game.
1st timeout: Called prior to a jump ball
2nd timeout: Deng turnover
3rd timeout: Rose drew a foul (2-for-2)
4th timeout: Warrick missed jumper
5th timeout: Rose turnover
6th timeout: Couldn’t get ball inbounds
7th timeout: Portland was forced to foul
8th timeout: Gibson turnover
9th timeout: Portland had possession
I’ll focus on the second, fourth and fifth timeouts. After the second timeout, the ball was inbounded and nobody — I mean nobody — was looking for the ball. I have no idea whether it was bad execution or the players were confused by their instructions.
After the fourth timeout, Warrick dribbled the ball for what seemed like forever while Deng worked his way around a couple picks for a curl. When the play didn’t develop, Warrick dribbled his way into the paint and took a forced, off-balance jumper that missed. The ball went out of bounds off the Blazers, but Deng quickly turned the ball back over to Portland. Just an all-around bad possession. Mind you, this came with about five minutes left in the fourth quarter when the Bulls were down 95-92.
After the fifth timeout, the Blazers trapped Rose and nobody came to the ball. Everybody just kind of stood there. Derrick tried to force a pass through Camby’s outstretched arms and, uh, it didn’t work.
Derrick hearts Vinny:
A lot of people think Del Negro won’t be back as Bulls coach next season. Others just hope that’s the case.
During an appearance on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000, Derrick said: “Oh definitely, if he comes back I’ll be happy. … He’s doing a good job with us, the coaching staff is doing a good job with us. He usually lets me go out there and play and lets me make the best of my mistakes. No matter what, he always tells me I’m doing a good job, and he’s always showing me video. I don’t have anything to complain about.”
I have no idea what impact Rose’s feelings will have on the decision to keep Vinny or let him go…but a vote of confidence from the franchise player can’t hurt Del Negro’s chances.