MIAMI — Give Derrick Rose credit for taking it in stride.
Following his stellar preseason, the point guard’ s regular-season debut against the defending champions wasn’t supposed to go like this. But after his 12-point, 4-for-15 shooting five-turnover outing in the Bulls’ 107-95 season-opening loss Tuesday night to the Heat, Rose seemed like his usual self, refusing to make things solely about his poor performance, while still managing to take personal responsibility.
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“No, not at all,” he responded when asked if he felt any pressure going into the contest. “Even with the performance I had, it’s no pressure because I know I’m going to have a breakthrough game. My job is to continue to work hard and I know it’s going to come to me.
“They have great defense, but it was me making the right plays. The double-teaming, from there we have to just play easy basketball and not force anything, and it takes me making shots. I don’t think I forced anything. I just couldn’t knock down any shots,” Rose added. “I don’t think it was rust. It was just me missing shots. I’ve had worse shooting nights than this. If anything, I’m going to have amnesia about it and we play in two days.
“For me, I wouldn’t want it any other way. To know that I work hard enough where I’m going to have a breakthrough game.”
Rose’s reaction was more reasoned than his coach, Tom Thibodeau, who replied to a question about whether the former league MVP forced the action at times by saying, “It was a very physical game.”
“I thought he was OK initially. I liked his playmaking in the first quarter. I thought in trying to get us going, we got in trouble. There is still going to be some rust,” the coach went on to say. “I thought he played hard. He had some good looks that he normally makes. It was a very physical game. That’s something he has to get used to. He will.”
From a team perspective, Rose, being the competitor that he is, obviously wasn’t pleased, but he knows that one game out of 82 won’t make or break the Bulls’ title expectations this season.
“If anything, I’m disappointed in the loss. My performance, I can easily change that by making shots and turn down the turnovers, but the second quarter is what caught up to us,” he explained. “Foul trouble, the starting five changed up a little bit, but it’s something we can learn from. It’s not the end of the world. It’s not the playoffs where we’re eliminated. It’s just the first game, so we can easily fix things.”
“I think you really have to take advantage of it where when they trap make the easy play to the middle guy, whoever is setting the pick, and they have to make plays from there, but make the game as simple as possible,” Rose added. “Just play smarter. When Lu and Jimmy went out there were some things you could fix by switching it up. And as players they can learn to ease up on the defensive end and not pick up fouls, but like I said it was just a learning experience. We just didn’t show what we’re capable of.”
More importantly, the one thing that no longer needs to be asked about, subpar outing or not, is the state of his surgically-repaired left knee.
“Oh, my knee is good,” he said. “You don’t have to worry about that at all.
“It’s not the end of the world. This will be easily forgotten. Of course we’ll look at film tomorrow and the next day we play against another great team,” Rose continued. “We have a whole season to make a statement. If it was just a one-game season that’s something we would be worried about. For us it’s about building every game. We know that we have a special team, we know that we work hard. It’s about us jelling and getting our chemistry.”