Okay, I'm kidding.
But Rose's play -- and the rest of the team for that matter -- in his much anticipated return left A TON to be desired. The Bulls were extremely sluggish from the start as they tried to do their best "Butler in the Title game" impersonation. The Bulls were awful in just about every facet: they couldn't score, didn't play any defense, and couldn't hold onto the ball. But the Bulls, through the inevitability of their defense were able to reel the Knicks back in. They were able to overtake the Knicks through a strong 3rd quarter performance where Derrick Rose did some Derrick Rose things.
Unfortunately for the Bulls, Rose wouldn't play any better after the third. Rose's 3 week break was glaringly obvious both at the end of the 2nd quarter and through the 4th quarter (and overtime). At the end of the 2nd quarter Derrick was doing the classic, "covering my mouth with my jersey so people can't see how much I'm out of breath" move that I personally have come to perfect. I'm actually glad that Rose was so obviously winded in the 4th and OT because it allowed me to rationalize how much he shit the bed. Because if I can tell myself that Rose was just exhausted and still recovering from his injury then maybe I don't have to write 1000 words on whether or not he's clutch. (I think he is, just not when he's at the free throw line... it scares the shit out of me.) I don't want to say that Rose didn't look fully recovered, but it did look he hadn't played in a 3 weeks. There are certain things that you can't replicate by just shooting around. Rose's timing, feel for his teammates, and even his handles looked rusty. Rose also seemed to struggle to get to the rim on his drives, leaving his layups short or even getting stripped before he got to the rack. I'm confident that his explosiveness will return once he starts to get his legs under him.
I mentioned Rose and his "feel for his teammates" earlier. This matters. The whole season the Bulls have operated with the mindset, "just get to the playoffs healthy." Well, the playoffs will be here before we know it. And the Bulls starting 5 haven't played more than a handful of games together since January. This is a serious problem that will need to change. The Bulls need to find a rhythm and some momentum heading towards the playoffs (if you haven't been watching them recently, they've been pretty awful more than they've been pretty awesome). A reckoning is fast approaching where the Bulls finally get to see just what this team is made of. This last stretch of games is crucial for the Bulls playoff hopes. The Bulls can't beat the Heat without everyone (Yes, Everyone.) clicking on all cylinders.
Don't worry though. It's not all bad news. This happened, which really was one of my favorite things to see all season.
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