Derrick Rose Making a Habit of Closing?
The game showcased what makes (Derrick) Rose one of the toughest, most competitive winners in the league. He banged knees with Tony Parker in the first half and writhed on the ground in pain. No bother for the MVP, who checked back in and went to work. He would’ve had a decent excuse had he faded late in the game — bad back, bruised knee, toe issues — but Rose instead finished strong. He started the game 6-15 from the floor. He hit four of final eight attempts, including a perfect 8-8 from the line.
It was precisely these type of performances last season that won Rose the MVP. People could see how important he was to the Bulls’ success, how he essentially had to drag that band of above average role players to an elite status. But when you deal with the pain of faltering in the big moments, something Rose puts squarely on his shoulders, it changes you. Those jumpers you hit in crunch-time against top tier teams like the Spurs mean a little more. They’re something you can recall, something you can rely upon as you gear up for later showdowns.
Each time Rose closes for the Bulls, he’s one step closer to being ready for what the Eastern playoffs will throw at him. On back-to-back nights, he made big shots for the Bulls. If you hit enough of them, they kind of start to become habit. They aren’t so daunting anymore, don’t carry that same pressure. Rose has always been willing to take the shots. Now he’s making them. And that’s something he can take with him.