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Rose on his legacy: I want to be a clutch player

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Rose on his legacy: I want to be a clutch player

WASHINGTON Immediately after Sunday afternoons loss to the Heat in Miami, Derrick Rose revealed his extreme disappointment, most of which centered around, apart from the defeat itself, his two missed free throws in the final minute of the contest. Prior to the Bulls Monday night game against the Wizards, the reigning league MVP echoed those sentiments, but far from his crestfallen demeanor after the game, he voiced a determination to get past the high-profile failure.

Im fine. I can deal with it. My teammates, theyve got to roll with me through the good and the bad. I know if I ever get in that position again, itll be totally different, said Rose, showing even more of a swagger and confidence than in the past. You know, at first, it definitely hurt, knowing that I never would have thought in a million years that I would miss both free throws, but at that time, it definitely hurt. Talked to a few people, you know people try to encourage you. I know if I get in that position again, which I am, it will be a different outcome.

Thats something I live for. I think of my legacy. I want people to think of me as being a clutch player, someone that always comes through, majority of the time, when theyre on the court and Sunday, it hurt a little bit, but I know itll help me in the long run, he continued. If anything, Im just hurt for not only me, but the city of Chicago, knowing how big that game was, not only to me and to the organization, but to the city and our fans all over. Thats a rivalry there and you had your best player up there, had the opportunity to take the lead and I didnt come through. The only thing I can do is hope that they stay with me, stick with me and I promise that I wont let them down again.

Rose refused to take solace in the fact the constantly short-handed Bulls were missing small forward Luol Deng, the teams second-best player, and reserve stalwart C.J. Watson, who could have spelled Rose for at least few minutes Sunday.

Dont get me wrong, thats all good, but we still had an opportunity to win and we didnt. In the NBA, theres no excuses, no matter whos playing, whos out, whos injured, said Rose, putting the loss in perspective. It was huge because it was our next game, but losing to them in the playoffs, of course, with that history, we definitely wanted to win that game Sunday. I think we put ourselves in a position to win and I just didnt come through. I think if I would hit those two free throws, it would have changed the game, but it didnt work that way.

But when asked if there would be any carry-over from his disappointment to Mondays game, Rose was steadfast in his response.

Oh, hell no. Hell no, said Rose, who cited the NCAA championship game during his lone college season at Memphis ironically, he lost to Kansas, whose hero was Heat starting point guard Mario Chalmers as the last time he can recall coming up short in the clutch individually. It just makes me hungry, where tonight, Im going to try to go crazy.

On the other hand, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, equipped with a similar competitive spirit, was adamant in not discussing Sundays game.

We dont look backwards. All were doing is looking at tonights game against Washington, be ready to play. Thats all. Theyre a team, youve got to be ready for their speed and intensity, he said. I dont want our focus to be on Sunday. I want it to be on today and thats all were thinking about.

As for Rose, the All-Star point guard claimed his turf-toe injury doesnt affect him anymore.

I dont feel it anymore. My biggest thing now is just getting rest, he said. My toe is all right, been getting treatment on it, so Im fine with that. Its just getting rest and getting the proper sleeping time.

Ive been making sure Im eating good. I stopped eating sweets as much. Getting rest, sleeping. Really, just laying around in my bed, getting off my feet and eating-wise, I only eat chicken. I dont eat beef, pork or fish, so I think Im eating OK, Rose continued, explaining a health kick partially motivated by the condensed schedule. Just sugar, period. Candy. Thats something Ive stoppedIve slowed down, I would sayand Im still working on it.

Rose also talked about how being a Chicago native, he feels even more of a responsibility to his hometown team.

I wouldnt say a burden, but I like seeing my city happy, especially if Im one of the reasons why. I know what we went through after Mike left and all the years people didnt really watch the Bulls and for them to start watching the Bulls, and for the organization, get our fans back, it means a lot to me, knowing that when you see people, theyve got Bulls hats on, Bulls apparel on. It means a lot to me, he said.

NBA power rankings: Antetokounmpo and Bucks keep up 14 game win streak

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USA Today

NBA power rankings: Antetokounmpo and Bucks keep up 14 game win streak

With the NBA season hitting the quarter pole, it’s a good time to check in on how the MVP race is shaping up.

After blowing a two games to none lead against Toronto in last spring’s Eastern Conference Finals, Giannis Antetokounmpo vowed to come back better than ever this season, and he’s done exactly that, improving his averages in points, rebounds, assists, field goal percentage and 3-point shooting percentage.

The one knock on Antetokounmpo had been his lack of a consistent outside shot, and while he’s still only shooting 31.6% from beyond the arc, he’s made at least three shots from long distance in three of his last seven games.

The Bucks are currently riding a 14 game winning streak after blowing out a very good Clippers’ team at Fiserv Forum last Friday. Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers even joked about the result, saying, “It was Giannis’ 25th birthday, and we searched all over the city to find a gift, and we couldn’t find one, so we gave him this one. That’s all I can come up with because we were awful.”

Antetokounmpo still has to prove he can get the Bucks to the Finals, but through the first 23 games, he’s clearly the favorite to win his 2nd straight MVP award.

LeBron James’ Lakers are actually a half game ahead of the Bucks for the NBA’s best record at the start of the new week. James leads the NBA in assists, something that hasn’t been done by a player who doesn’t play the guard position since Wilt Chamberlain. James would rank 2nd on my MVP rankings at the quarter pole.

I wrote about Luka Doncic in last week’s power rankings, and after averaging a triple double in November and leading the Mavericks to an unexpected strong start in the West, Luka would be number three, followed by NBA scoring leader James Harden and Toronto’s Pascal Siakam.

Now on to this week’s rankings. Check them out here. 

Without linear growth, the silver linings of Bulls' loss to Heat ring hollow

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USA Today

Without linear growth, the silver linings of Bulls' loss to Heat ring hollow

Trailing the Heat 108-105 with four seconds remaining in overtime, the ball found Lauri Markkanen. He was pinned in the corner and leaning away from the basket, but still, he got a clean 3-point attempt off. If the shot fell, it would have tied the game.

But it didn't. Instead, the high-arching jumper clanged off the side of the rim. And when it did, Coby White — who enjoyed, in many ways, a career performance in this game — slumped over. The response befitted the performance.

"Nobody likes to lose. We're not happy with the loss," Jim Boylen said. "I got a frustrated group of guys in there that want to win."

It's a defeat that, on its face, should be swallowable. In it, the Bulls played one of the league's best teams in the Heat down to the wire, in an arena they haven't lost in this season. 

The silver linings were abundant: The Bulls won the first quarter, an area Boylen has often emphasized. They got standout performances from Markkanen (team-high 22 points), Kris Dunn (16 points, three steals, 6-for-9 shooting) and White (11 points, eight assists, 3-for-7 from 3-point range, closed the fourth quarter and OT). They outshot one of the NBA's most prolific offenses and held Jimmy Butler to 3-for-14 shooting. Sure, he went to the free throw line 21 times, but he also didn't break the Bulls' back with clutch buckets down the stretch.

"It's real hard. But we gave them some game goals, and they accomplished them," Boylen said. "First quarter start. Be more physical. For the most part, our defensive rebounding was really good. Our transition D was really good. Our physicality was good. We moved the ball, we executed. We ran things to get open shots.

"We did a lot of really good thing and that's what I have to look at. Ultimately, you want to win. I cannot take away from the good things we do and the growth we're making. But it hurts."

Yet, something feels especially hollow about this loss. Even sour. But perhaps that's more about what came before tonight. Talk of growth doesn't resonate without assurance that said growth will continue to occur lineally, and that hasn't happened for the Bulls. Just last week, they sparked their first win streak of the season with victories over the Kings and Grizzlies. Steps forward. Then, a massive step back in falling to the 5-19 Warriors on Friday.

The tropes that pervaded the Golden State game reared their head again tonight. Zach LaVine was 1-for-6 between the fourth quarter and overtime. Loose balls found the wrong hands. Crucial defensive lapses late aided Tyler Herro nailing four 3-pointers (including the eventual game-winner) over the game's last six minutes.

"The one that [Herro] put up before the overtime, Shaq actually did a good job on [Butler] defensively and I thought [Butler] was gonna shoot the ball, so I went in there and crashed," Dunn said of the 3-pointer Herro hit to put the Heat up 97-95 with 7.1 seconds left in regulation. "[Butler] made an unselfish play, a great play out to Tyler Herro and he knocked it down... Jimmy does draw a lot of attention, he's a good player, but we have to be defensively sound. And, for me, that last play before the overtime, that was on me."

At 8-16, the Bulls simply can't afford to be happy with an 'encouraging' loss, even if they wish they could be. The balance of finding and taking the positives from this defeat while at the same reconciling that this season is escaping them is a difficult one.

"[Winning] is important, but I have to measure this — third-youngest team in the league, this young group — in other ways than that. I have to. That's what we're building, that's what we're developing," Boylen said.

"Definitely frustrated to lose, but we played well, a lot of guys played well," Dunn said. "Good thing about the NBA, games come quick... Tomorrow, we play Toronto at home so hopefully bring the same intensity and get the win there."

If that win is of the moral variety, the burning issues facing this team aren't like to dissipate soon.

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