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Wednesday, February 1

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Bulls Mon Mar 21 2011

Chin Up, Kid!

Thumbnail image for chicagobulls.pngI had planned to scold the Bulls for missing a golden opportunity Friday night, as they lost to the Indiana Pacers in overtime, 115-108. (Yes, the same Pacers who trail Chicago by 20 games in the Central Division.) Boston's win Saturday in New Orleans means the East's top two teams are once again tied in the standings.

And perhaps the Bulls still deserve a scolding, but Derrick Rose can leave the room. Because right now, all I want to say to him is this:

Son, it's OK.

The Pacers played tough Friday night, racing out to a lead that built the entire game. When Chicago finally decided to put a stop to it in the fourth quarter, they climbed out of a 16-point hole to force overtime before finally falling. The team played defense finally to stop Indiana, but it was Rose who scored 19 of the team's final 20 points to take it to overtime, where, out of gas, sore and beleaguered, he began to falter, leading to this from the star point guard after the game:

"Tonight, I think my turnovers hurt the game. Plain and simple ... no way I was supposed to turn that ball over in that clutch situation, and I did. I put that on me, man."

He's referring to a forgettable overtime performance in which he missed several shots and turned the ball over, allowing the Pacers to finish off Chicago. To which, I say again:

Son, it's OK.

You matched your career high with 42 points. The Bulls shot a paltry 6 for 27 from behind the arc. Thibodeau himself ripped the team's defensive performance, calling this game "a step backward" with the type of emotion that athletes at any level never want to see from their coach. The emotion that suggests future practices will involve conditioning in both senses of the word, running the team ragged to make sure they learn they can never win with one quarter's worth of defense.

And they deserve it. Much was made last week of Kobe Bryant staying after the Lakers-Heat game to shoot for over an hour after the loss, looking like a real-life Nike commercial as he took jumper after jumper in an almost empty arena while his teammates were long gone. But there's a fine line, I think, between recognizing you missed a few key shots that would have swung the game in your favor -- as Kobe clearly did -- and realizing that you did just about everything you could to win a game but it just didn't shake out. Rose needs to recognize that he can't always take it on his own broad shoulders -- both the fate of the Bulls and the blame that comes when it doesn't go right.

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