Tom Thibodeau was the latest member of the Bulls organization to make a bold statement.
No T-shirt needed for this one.
“He’s gotta attack,’’ the Bulls coach said of the struggles Derrick Rose has had on the court, especially as of late. “That’s the bottom line.
“All I know is when he’s pushing the ball up the floor and attacking, that’s who he is. He can’t defer. He can’t pace himself. He’s gotta go. That’s the big thing. He’s gotta go.’’
And go soon.
In dropping two of their last three games, Rose has been mediocre at best. There was a 6-for-20 performance in the loss to Dallas, a much more tolerable 5-for-12 shooting night in Charlotte, but then a very passive looking 2-for-11 in Saturday’s loss to Golden State.
That’s 30 percent shooting from the field, and a dismal 28 percent from beyond the three-point line.
No wonder Rose’s shooting chart resembles a winter weather map: A few hot spots near the rim, but a whole lot of cold fronts scattered throughout.
“I know the more that I play, my driving game is going to be there,’’ Rose said. “But I’ve got to get used to guys going under screens like they’re trying to do or I’m shooting open shots that they’re giving me. So just trying to get used to taking the shots in those types of tough situations, you know like when we’re down two and I get an open three, having the confidence to take those shots.’’
Thibodeau heard the explanation from his 2011 league MVP, but said after the Tuesday practice that simpler might be better.
“It’s an instinctive game,’’ Thibodeau said. “We have to trust him, but I know when he has played well this year, he’s been in attack mode.
“By nature, he’s trying to fit in right now. It’s a new team for him. He’s trying to learn his teammates. He’s playing off people. We need him to go. Just go. Go. Great players will figure it out.’’
Beyond the shooting problems and passive-style of play for Rose, Thibodeau’s focus is usually on how the team functions with certain personnel on the floor. Rose’s three-game plus/minus the last week is a minus-20, so it isn’t like the Bulls have been overcoming his poor shooting.
“He knows,’’ teammate Joakim Noah said of Rose needing to be more aggressive. “I think it’s important for Derrick to be aggressive and pick and choose when the right time is in the game and get going guys. He’s the floor general, the point guard. It’s a lot going on, but the more he plays, the better it’s going to be.’’
Hosting Brooklyn at home Wednesday night would be a good time for Rose to put that attack-mode into play.
Noah (right ankle) and Doug McDermott (right knee) will be absent from the lineup, but that shouldn’t change the mentality Rose needs to show up with.
“It’s different,’’ Rose said of the Return 2.0. “[Opposing teams are] playing me different. It’s more like when I get the ball, if I have a pick-and-roll, they’re going to send two people at me until I pass the ball, or play a contain-type trap where they’re not going to be all the way on me, but they’re always going to make sure that someone is always protecting me from the rim.
“I just got to learn how to score with two people on me whenever I drive, and make sure I learn how to get fouled or make sure that I get a good shot up.’’
Either way, it’s time for it to start happening.