DENVER — In the first half of Thursday night’s 97-87 loss to the Nuggets at the Pepsi Center, Bulls point guard Derrick Rose looked like he had started to turn the corner.
Not just in the literal sense — though he did that, too — but in terms of making meaningful progress in fighting through his early-season offensive woes. Rose shot 7-for-12 from the floor for 15 first-half points while matched up with Denver’s Ty Lawson, one of the league’s up-and-coming point guards.
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Now, in the second half, things fell apart for both Rose and the Bulls, as they scored 14 third-quarter points, then got blitzed by a 13-0 Denver run that pretty much ended the contest. Still, in Rose’s 33 minutes, he finished with 19 points on 9-for-20 shooting before Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau wisely sat him for the remainder of the evening midway through the final period.
“We were down 20 and the guys that came in cut it, so I just wanted to see where it would go. There was no other reason, other than that. I thought he played hard. I think he’s still shaking some rust off and he’s itching to play more minutes, so that’s a good sign. He feels pretty good,” Thibodeau explained. “He had a great first half. Attacking, just great quick, explosive moves, good plays, terrific defense. It’s coming. You can see it. I just want him to continue to concentrate on improvement, getting better each game. His confidence is growing, he’s getting better and better. But our team has to play better. We have to find ourselves.”
For Rose, the game was less meaningful, as the former league MVP believes his mid-range game, specifically pull-up jumpers, has a long way to go before he’s back to being himself.
“I’m not worried about how I feel during the game. I’m going to continue to play the way that I normally play. I’m not worried about my rhythm or anything. It’s going to come. It’s just about trying to continue to win games and we lost tonight, and we’ve got a long road trip so we didn’t start it off right, but we’ve still got games coming up,” he explained. “I know it’s there. I work too hard. Just shooting with the ball in my hands, that’s the next step. Coming off pick-and-roll, mid-range shots. Set shots, I know I can knock them down, but just getting used to having the ball in my hands and creating, and really knocking down the shots. That’s the next thing. Like I said, I know my rhythm is going to come.”