NEW YORKJudging from his point total in Sunday afternoons loss to the Knicks, Derrick Rose was not only back in the Bulls lineup, but back to his old ways.
However, the box score, which reflected his struggles shooting and handling the ball told a different story.
Now, Rose clearly got more comfortable as the game went on, but while there were flashes of his explosiveness, he didnt display his trademark burst on a regular basis and his turnover issues showed a lack of timing. More significantly, his problems late in the game at the free-throw line which famously plagued him in a late-January loss at Miami, not to mention in the NCAA national-championship game as a freshman in college reared its ugly head.
Free throws, turnovers. Thats the reason why we lost this game. I had a lot of turnovers, just getting back into rhythm. Its just one of those games at the end, missed those free throws. Hopefully next time, if I get the opportunity, Im going to knock them down, a dejected Rose said afterwards. I told them if I was out there and we needed to win the game, I wanted to be in the game and he put me in. I missed those damn free throws and next time, I know Ill for sure hit one of them.
Both Rose and All-Star teammate Luol Deng came up short at the charity stripe with the Bulls needing just one foul shot to make it a two-possession game, resulting in Knicks star Carmelo Anthony hitting a game-tying three-pointer to send the contest into overtime, following Rose missing a game-winning shot attempt at the buzzer. In the extra session, Rose came up short on another opportunity to win the game at the buzzer.
Step-back. Shot a little bit too hard. I think it was on target, but it just went over the rim a little bit too hard and I can live with that. My teammates gave me the ball, they have confidence in me to take those type of shots and this time, I just missed it, he recounted. They swarmed me and I just got the shot off, but it didnt go in.
I just fell into him. I was trying to come off, he was playing me hard, he tripped and I tripped over him. I looked up, the ball was in, just ran to the ball, he continued, when asked about the games final play, on which he initially stumbled when tangled up with a Knicks defender. Oh, its tough. Its definitely tough. When you lose a game, especially for us, its tough. Its going to hurt us, no matter who we lose to. But their team played great, man. Knocking down shots, didnt give up when we went up, had a big lead.
On the bright side, Rose said that he didnt feel any negative aftereffects following the game and understands where he can improve.
I was trying to do too much. Try to let the game come to me. My teammates did a great job of getting us back into the game and second half, I was trying to play a little bit more aggressive, he explained. Trying to take off too fast, ball behind me or trying to be aggressive going to the hole and not cuffing the ball like I normally do, but that comes with time and hopefully next time we play them, turnovers will be down.
Just the tempo of the game. I didnt really get to the lane. When I did get to the lane, missing floaters, missing layups. Shots that I normally hit. I just wasnt hitting them today. I know that will come with time, too, the All-Star point guard continued. I feel good. When I was out there, getting my groove back, my wind was OK. Just playing. It just felt good to be out there.
When asked about the strained right groin that kept him out of action since the last Bulls-Knicks matchup in March, Rose said it wasn't on his mind.
I didnt think of it," he said. "Im not worried about that. My thing is, just try to get better. Defensively, we just werent there today and hopefully next time we play them, well come out with a sense of urgency.
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, while displeased with his teams mistakes in general, wasnt overly critical of Roses performance in his first game after missing 12 straight.
About what we expected. Some good, some bad. Handling the ball was a problem, but our whole team, we didnt take care of the ball, he said. Overall, I thought he played very well. Down the stretch, there were some bobbles and not clean, but thatll come quickly for him.
He said he was great. Talked to Fred Tedeschi, the teams trainer during the game. Said he was fine, so he was good, he continued. I talked about that playing Rose in the games stretch run with Fred. Because he was feeling fine, that was real good. We had an idea where we wanted the minutes to be.
Added Carlos Boozer: It was great to have him back. He looked great. He played great. He played a lot of minutes for his first game back and played very well, and it was great to see him back out there. Its just good to have No. 1 back in the lineup.
Chimed in Luol Deng: Ive played with Derrick for years now. Thats not really the problem.