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Rose game winner beats Knicks in homecoming

Friday, 11.01.13

by Sam Smith

Derrick Rose really didn’t do that, did he? Derrick knows drama, too.

First regular season game back in the United Center since his serious knee injury 18 months ago, the fans erupting like it was a championship celebration when Rose was introduced, and then with the Bulls trailing 81-80 with 5.7 seconds left Rose puts in a ridiculous, running 11-foot floater from the right baseline halfway behind the backboard with seven-foot Tyson Chandler in his face.

To carry the Bulls to an 82-81 victory and their first win of the season in Rose’s official, nationally televised homecoming.

C’mon, we wouldn’t even have made it up that way.

“I want to be known as one of those players,” said Rose.

“When it is my time in the fourth quarter I can’t shy away from shots,” added Rose, who finished with 18 points and six assists on seven of 23 shooting. “I just love being in that position, being in the fourth quarter having the ball in my hands. Making all the decisions I think is going to make me a better player so in the playoffs we’re used to it and used to being in those types of games.

“For me, there’s not pressure,” shrugged Rose with perhaps two dozen reporters gathered around him in the steamy Bulls locker room. “If I miss the shot, I miss it. I just love taking them. I knew it had a good chance. I got enough arc on it and it fell through.”

And even the previous failures during the game helped, Rose said, as he was often denied at the rim by yet another team sagging all its defenders toward Rose.

“Tyson (Chandler with a game high 19 rebounds and four blocks) came over. He made me take a lot of different shots (during the game), and I learned from it,” Rose explained. “(So) later on in the game I was able to shoot over him.”

Carmelo Anthony got one more chance to win it. But without double teaming help, Luol Deng did a good job staying with Anthony’s jab step and the shot came up short to both the relief of the appreciative home fan as well as their excitement.

Though rarely displaying much emotion, Rose was quiet but obviously touched after his shot went through and he was embraced by his teammates with a hug representing the more than 22,000 there.

“It was phenomenal,” said Taj Gibson. “I looked in his face after he made the shot. He was real emotional. I felt for him. After a long year being off, working so hard in the summer, grinding with us in practice. I’m happy for him.”

It was Halloween night, and what a treat for everyone, especially Rose.

You can go home again.

“Coming home tonight and seeing how the fans supported me, it’s a blessing to be in the position I’m in,” said Rose in a pensive moment. “I’m just trying to appreciate it, take it all in and still go out and do my job.”

It was the stuff of movies, the unlikeliest of happy endings in a game, frankly, the Bulls looked like they’d given away blowing a 10-point fourth quarter lead with another poor shooting game and stagnant offense being carried by Rose.

Both Miami and the Knicks ganged up on Rose wherever he went. And the conventional wisdom is Rose is rusty and working his way back shooting 11 for 38 in the two games. Which is not exactly what I saw. I saw an athletic, speedy and determined Rose trying to break through a tangle of arms and legs and bumps and thumps wherever he went as teammates continually came up empty.

In Miami Tuesday it was the brutal second period after Deng and Jimmy Butler got in foul trouble, only Carlos Boozer shooting better than 50 percent. Boozer again was more than 50 percent for 14 points and Deng was eight of 15 for 17 points with six assists.

But both made just one shot beyond 15 feet as the Bulls overall were four of 25 beyond that range. They didn’t make a long jump shot the entire first half, zero for nine beyond 15 feet even as they led 43-38.

The Bulls were cutting up the Knicks early in a 26-16 start with Deng’s slashing drives against an overmatched Iman Shumpert, long misses and turnovers leading to runouts and Boozer’s late first quarter strong post work dominating Amar’e Stoudemire in his first appearance of the season.

But the Bulls seemed to go away from the post after halftime, playing more of their side and top pick and roll game that led to a deliberate game and two for 15 shooting fourth quarter. That enabled the Knicks, now losers of six straight to the Bulls, to take their first lead since early in the fourth quarter on an Anthony post up turnaround with 4:10 left to give the Knicks a 78-70 lead.

Rose then ended a 12-0 Knicks run with a pair of free throws after Butler and Anthony missed jumpers. But the Knicks were the relentless ones now, Chandler tapping the ball back for offensive rebounds as the home crowd quieted. The Bulls staved off a damaging possession when Anthony and Ray Felton twice missed jumpers. The Knicks had turned to using three guards with rookie Tim Hardaway Jr., who played well, and the Bulls went small to match.

Continue Reading… (Sam Smith/Bulls.com)