Derrick Rose was not at his best in Thursday night’s nationally-televised matchup against the Knicks, but he rose to the occasion when it mattered most.
With the Bulls trailing by one and 5.7 seconds remaining, Rose drove baseline, then stopped and elevated for the high-arching floater over two defenders that fell through the net to give his team the win.
Rose finished the night just 7-of-23 from the field for 18 points, but taking control in the final seconds with the game hanging in the balance was as important as anything in his return to the court this season following a one-year, injury-forced absence.
Carmelo Anthony had a chance to return the favor, and we all knew he would end up taking the final shot. But his long two in isolation at the buzzer rimmed out, and the Bulls came away with the 82-81 victory.
Anthony finished with 22 points on 24 shots in 42 minutes of action — an inefficient game even by his standards. A lot of that was due to the Bulls’ defense, of course, and without an additional gunner in the lineup (like the suspended J.R. Smith, for example) it was a rough night for New York offensively.
It wasn’t much better for Chicago, but they did get some better looks than they did against the stifling team defense of the Heat on opening night. Overall, though, the 40.8 percent shooting is probably not going to get it done most nights.
The biggest takeaway from the Bulls in this one, other than the victory over an Eastern Conference rival, was that Rose was able to will the team to victory even after a performance that was anything but pretty.
Rose went three straight possessions trying to make things happen down the stretch before the game-winning shot was true, and the fact that he played 34 minutes through an injury that had him listed as a game-time decision speaks volumes to how far he’s come, and where he may be able to take his team over the course of the season.