Tie game, 18.1 seconds to play. Everyone knew Derrick Rose was getting the ball. He knew it. The 15,389 in attendance knew it. Even the Bucks knew it. But they couldn’t do anything about it. And that’s why he’s the League’s MVP.
In the 4th quarter, with the game on the line, D-Rose isn’t looking for Carlos Boozer at the top of the key. He demands the ball and puts the rest of the team on his back. It’s what makes Rose the cold-blooded assassin that one other MVP candidate is clearly not.
With the game tied at 104, Rose dribbled down the clock before shaking Brandon Jennings and knocking down the step back, fadeaway jumper for a 106-104 victory in Milwaukee.
“I’m blessed to be on this team,” Rose said after the game. “They gave me the ball at the end. It shows how much respect they have for me.”
That final play will surely overshadow the rest of Rose’s game. He finished just two rebounds shy of his second career triple-double, putting up 30 points, 8 rebounds and 11 assists.
Joakim Noah continued to give Bulls fans reason to hop off the ‘We Want Dwight’ bandwagon, finishing with 20 points and 10 rebounds and playing like the dominant center this team will need if it’s going to make a title run. Several of his rebounds came on the offensive end, in key moments late in the fourth quarter.
While Rose’s buzzer-beater will make all the highlight shows, it should’ve never come to that. The Bulls let the inferior Bucks (15-23) hang around for four quarters. Milwaukee forced 17 turnovers, allowing them to stay in the game.
It didn’t hurt that the Bulls defense made Ersan Ilyasova and Drew Gooden look like Duncan and Robinson. Ilyasova had himself a game, scoring a career high 32 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Gooden had a much more modest 27 points and 6 boards.
No matter the opponent, in the end the Bulls found a way to win, which is the key. Games like this can go a long way in getting a team ready for playoff basketball.