By Joel Brigham of Hoopsworld.com
It was the biggest shot of Bulls guard Derrick Rose‘s professional career. Well, so far.
Battling back from a 17-point fourth quarter deficit, Rose—a clear favorite for Rookie of the Year—scored sixteen points in the period against the Houston Rockets, shooting 7-for-8 from the field en route to a pretty incredible come-from-behind victory in his home arena.
The biggest of those seven field goals, however, came with just over half a minute left in the game and the score tied at 102. Blowing past the speedy Aaron Brooks, Rose drifted into the lane off balance and floated up a rainbow of a shot that bounced around the rim a couple of times before dropping. It was the first game-winning shot of his NBA career.
“I finished a game in Minnesota and some other places where I got the last shot,” Rose admitted following the big win, “but this time I finally made one.”
He added, “I’ve found that in the NBA the game is never over. Hit some shots and put yourself back in the game, and you can win games. In this league you can never give up.”
Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro explicated his game plan down the stretch, explaining, “We tried to get some high screen rolls and Derrick was hitting his floater in the lane. He got it going and pulled us out in the fourth quarter.
“The thing with Derrick,” Del Negro continued, “is we want him to stay aggressive.”
That is something Rose has struggled with this year, often deferring to teammates and letting other people take the big shot. However on this night, Rose scored more points and took more shots than anybody else in a Bulls uniform, and the results set him 3 assists and 2 rebounds away from a triple-double.
“He killed us,” said Rockets head coach Rick Adelman, “especially off the pick-and-roll. He got into the paint and just killed us.
“Interestingly enough, after the game Rose refused to credit his offense for the exciting win; it was defense, he says, that made the comeback possible.
“Everybody came together in the huddle and said the game wasn’t over,” Rose explained. “We came out there and controlled them on the defensive end and scored on the other end… Everything starts with defense and rebounding. We got them into a shot-clock violation or something like that and the crowd really starting getting into it. We just went from there.”
As Rose’s defense and offense both improve with age and experience he will get many more opportunities to knock down game-winners, but the first one is always the sweetest. It was the biggest shot of Derrick Rose’s career.
Well, so far.