The physique is markedly different -- not as tall, a little thicker -- and the all-out, purposefully desperate style of play defied easy description. But the effect was unmistakably Jordan-like as
Rose scored 16 of his team-high 32 points in the fourth quarter and extra period, and he clearly wanted the ball in his hands in the moments that mattered, adding six assists with no turnovers. From the tucked-away box where he watches his creation, Bulls VP
Unanswered prayers. Two nights later, Rose went for 22 points and seven assists in a scintillating first half, helping the Bulls open a 35-point lead on the defenseless Sacramento Kings. Even in a season of freakish misadventures, it was impossible to envision them blowing it, but they did. And Rose was culpable, a no-show in the fourth quarter as the Kings outscored the Bulls 33-10 and fell one point short of matching the biggest comeback in NBA history.
They'll settle for the win, thank you.
More than a decade has passed since
But there was no obvious reason for the Bulls to lose their way as confoundingly as they did with Jordan's departure. Since winning six NBA titles in eight years, they have made four playoff appearances in the last 11 -- the same number as the Cubs over that span. They've won one playoff series -- same as the Cubs.
No matter how glorious your legacy, when you hire
Rare back-to-back visits by the Celtics and Lakers this month underscored the point. From
Derrick Rose is supposed to change that.
The Bulls lucked into him, winning the lottery after the 2007-08 season, when a 33-49 finish ended a three-season playoff run.
Progress was immediately discernible. As Rose was playing his way to Rookie of the Year recognition, a late-season spare-parts exchange brought
The decision to let
So it goes, Derrick. Any time you want to step it up. Finally over the sore heel that dogged him throughout training camp, Rose appeared to balk at Del Negro's recent suggestion that he do so, saying it's against his point-guard nature to look for his own shot, that he's more comfortable and effective creating for others.
But when others can't convert the opportunities, he creates for them. Rondo outplayed Rose in the Boston game, clearly benefitting from a superior supporting cast. Rose had 21 points, six assists and just two turnovers in 33 minutes against the Lakers, but went missing in the fourth quarter as the Bulls managed 14 points and watched the Lakers pull away.
"Does he scare you in the fourth quarter?" asked a scout as he packed away his reports after the game. His dismissive tone answered the question.
The Atlanta game was another story: The Hawks had won six in a row, including a 118-83 throttling of the Bulls in Atlanta 10 days earlier. The Bulls trailed by nine with 4:12 remaining, but they didn't lose this time because Rose wouldn't let them.
They need more of that, and more often.