INDIANAPOLIS — Fred Hoiberg has been pretty tight-lipped about the Bulls’ bad performances to start the season, preferring to use as few words as possible to illustrate his disappointment.
But after Friday’s disappointing loss to the surging Indiana Pacers, Derrick Rose gave a self-assessment that was as critical and biting as any comments he’s made about his play in quite awhile.
“Oh my god. I feel like I played like (bleep) tonight,” Rose said. “I don’t what the case might be, Thanksgiving, I don’t know. But it’s horrible coming in here and losing to them tonight. Their energy level. My energy wasn’t up.”
Rose certainly wasn’t the only culprit as the Bulls’ sluggishness was on display from the opening few possessions, but he was critical in a way he’s usually not known to be after a 10-point, six-rebound and five-assist performance that saw him shoot just 4-of-16 from the field.
But he seemed quite disgusted with himself after, saying he wouldn’t take Saturday off like the team will to work on his game.
“I can’t put a finger on it right now,” Rose said. “Tonight, it was all about energy. We came out sluggish, I came out sluggish. Missed a bunch of shots. Me, I’m one of the leaders on this team. I have to change that.”
The Bulls were certainly begging for a superstar to save them on this night, especially considering the first game coming off a west-coast swing is the toughest one to get, as it’ll be two whole weeks between games at the United Center.
“It is a tough game coming back from the west coast but we can’t use that as an excuse,” Rose said. “We had a chance to crack that 10-point lead but we didn’t execute the right way.”
Rose couldn’t muster a strong performance with the aforementioned numbers, turning the ball over in the tried-and-true way of jumping in the air without a plan that resulted in turnovers and layups for the fast-breaking Pacers.
“Turnovers and bunnies,” Rose said. “I missed a lot of layups, shots I normally hit, with my left hand, I missed. Give me a day or two, we got practice Sunday and we play Monday.”
He got to the basket a few times but couldn’t convert. Only once did it look physically awkward, an instance where he was caught underneath the rim but couldn’t glide enough to bring his body to the other side for a layup that would’ve been difficult under the best of circumstances.
The other times, he just left it short on the front rim, missed opportunities that clearly gnawed at him. Rose was far more concerned about the defense that couldn’t get the necessary stops when the Pacers began to pull away.
“It’s just making it hard. The way we play (offense), we play free,” Rose said. “So we come down and shoot up a shot, if we go down on defense and son’t stop them, they could easily go up 8-10 points. We shoot a lot of jump shots. If we change that, we just make it hard on them, even the times where we can’t score, our defense has to be consistent. At least our energy level has to be consistent.
“I’m not even worried about the offense, to tell you the truth. If we can’t stop nobody or put stops together, it’s no point in talking about offense. We’re not trying to outscore teams. We’re trying to play defense.”
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His double vision, while annoying for some to hear, is still a factor without a definitive timetable for returning back to normal. And perhaps his sprained left ankle he suffered the last time these two teams tangled didn’t allow him enough lift for said layup attempts.
Hoiberg wouldn’t pin the loss on Rose, especially since not many could look at themselves and say “I had a game tonight.”
“Derrick’s had some really good moments, he’s won some big games for us and we trust him out there,” Hoiberg said.
But trust didn’t play much of a factor in performance, as even if Hoiberg wouldn’t explicitly say how bad the Bulls were, Rose said what was on full display for all to see.