After shooting a combined 7-for-35 the last two games, Derrick Rose said he wouldn’t stop shooting.
He fought back from a scoreless first half, in which he missed all seven of his attmepts, and hit crucial shot after crucial shot in the fourth quarter as the Bulls kicked off the New Year with a 106-101 win over the Denver Nuggets.
Rose scored 13 of his 17 in the fourth on 5-for-11 shooting in the period, to go along with eight assists, which were matched by Jimmy Butler, who led all scorers with 26 points.
“Everybody questions everything here,” said Joakim Noah on the attention Rose’s shooting troubles have garnered the last three games, in which he’s shooting 14-for-60. “I never question him because I know what kind of competitor he is and he’s a worker, so he’ll be fine.”
Rose never once looked frustrated, as several of his shots clanged off the rim, including missing some of his bread and butter floaters. He was just as confident when he stuck a 21-footer with 24 seconds remaining in regulation and stared down the Nuggets’ assistant coachers, who were shouting at the defending Aaron Afflalo to back off of Rose and let him shoot.
“I heard the coaches saying something, and I just got caught up in the game. They were just telling them how to defend me, and I just made a shot.”said Rose on the glare to Denver’s bench.
The Bulls recorded a franchise record 18 blocked shots, led by Pau Gasol, who set a career high with nine, to go along with 17 points and nine rebounds. Nuggets’ coach Brian Shaw said he had never seen anything like it since he’s been around the league.
The Nuggets owned the first half, as the Bulls struggled to get anything easy on offense, shooting just 31.9 percent and heading into halftime down 53-42.
The Bulls responded with a 35-point third quarter and held Denver to just 8-for-25 (32%) shooting.
“As a team, we’re in a little bit of a funk,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “That’s what I liked about the second half. Everyone got going. Everyone gave a little more and made a few hustle plays and that’s what got us going. And usually, that’s what happens. You make some hustle plays, it unites, it inspires, and then you get a couple of easy baskets. All of a sudden, you find a rhythm. We have to be able to count on that on the nights we don’t shoot well. We still have to be able to win a game.”
With winning eight of their last nine and seven of their last eight at home, the Bulls are continuing to role.
As far as Rose, his mentality still will remain the same, no matter the nitpicking.
“My mentality is not going to change,” he said. “I’m going to keep shooting. I’m a scoring guard. I could care less about what anyone says about my game. They’re giving me shots. I should be able to make them shots.”