In Chicago’s 76-74 win over Atlanta, Derrick Rose didn’t just take over the game – he sent a message to the NBA.
Up until the 4th quarter, all the players in this game looked extremely tired. Maybe it was due to the compact scheduling of shortened season. The Bulls scored an embarrassing 24 points in the first half, making a grand total of 6 shots. The Hawks, who gave the Heat their first loss of the season, seemed to get whatever they wanted through the first 3 quarters. The first 3 quarters were highlighted by Al Horford alley-oops and a rare Tracy McGrady siting. Sitting in section 226, it was obvious that the crowd was extremely disappointed with the performance, even booing Carlos Boozer, for real, after a turnover.
At the beginning of the 4th Tom Thibedaeu did something slightly crazy. After Joakim Noah picked up his 3rd and 4th fouls he was benched until the last seconds of the game. Carlos Boozer sat the entire 4th quarter. Both Omer Asik and Kyle Korver outplayed three of the Bulls starters.
Thibedaeu wasn’t trying to send a message to Noah and Boozer, he was telling Derrick Rose to take over and win the game. He did just that.
Down 16 to begin the 4th, the Bulls defense began to get stops and Rose pushed the ball in transition. He created easy shots for his teammates and was able to get to and finish at the basket. Rose took over first by controlling the tempo of the game, he made the Hawks play at his pace. Then he took it over by scoring the ball.
Rose had 17 of his 30 points in the last period and assisted on 3 pointers by Korver and Deng. He wowed the crowd with an ankle-breaking crossover on Jeff Teague that literally had me screaming and jumping out of my seat and got to the free throw line. Then he capped the comeback by making a go-ahead layup over Josh Smith.
The Bulls finally won the game on an inbounds play where Noah found Deng for a backdoor cut. By this point, the crowd had already lost it because they knew they had watched a superstar work his magic. Rose finished with 30 points and 7 assists.
This win could be viewed as sloppy for the Bulls, only scoring 76 points but I think this young Chicago team used it to send a message, especially Derrick Rose. Tonight, Rose wanted to tell the NBA that he’s better than last year and will do anything to win a championship.