Bulls winning, but Derrick Rose’s rough shooting hard to miss

SHARE Bulls winning, but Derrick Rose’s rough shooting hard to miss

It wasn’t supposed to be a message for anyone specific on the Bulls’ roster — rather, a message to everyone.

‘‘We’re not playing our best right now,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said Friday. ‘‘But we’ve had a good stretch of basketball where we’re winning games. To me, that’s the most important thing.

‘‘I don’t want guys to get wrapped up in personal dilemmas. I want them to make the team function well. If you’re not shooting well, do other things to help us win.’’

No one specific, indeed.

Guard Derrick Rose has been in the headlines for close to a week, and while the Bulls have been winning — they’re 8-2 in their last 10 games — the spotlight on Rose has illuminated some ugly shooting numbers.

He has had bad stretches before, and his 2 1/2 years sidelined with back-to-back season-ending knee surgeries is as bad a stretch as an athlete can endure. But even Rose was hard-pressed to recall a three-game stretch like this in which he has gone 14-for-60 (.233 percent) with questionable decision-making on his three-point attempts (2-for-15).

Yet, he remains surprisingly defiant.

‘‘People before me that played this game, that achieved so much in this game — the mentality, that’s what changed people,’’ Rose said after the Bulls beat the Denver Nuggets on Thursday. ‘‘My mentality is not going to change. I’m going to shoot the ball. I’m a scoring guard.’’

Rose’s other eyebrow-raising statement from the last week was his describing how much smarter he has become since winning the NBA MVP Award in 2011.

‘‘As far as taking care of my body, picking and choosing during the game and not overusing myself throughout the entire game,’’ he said.

So he’s taking it easy until the fourth quarter? Tough to say with Rose, who often contradicts himself from day to day. After practice Friday at the Advocate Center, Thibodeau was asked about the comment and whether Rose’s mentality contradicts Thibodeau’s calls for intensity and effort on the court.

‘‘The important thing for a point guard is to keep the pace of the game going,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘So as long as [Rose is] attacking.

‘‘One of the things he’s doing that gets overlooked is throwing the ball ahead to Jimmy [Butler]. That’s important. Finding Pau [Gasol] early in transition. Attacking the paint, making the defense collapse. When [Rose] penetrates and plays with great speed, three of the four things that can happen are good. He can make the shot, he can get fouled, or it can lead to the second shot. So we want him to attack, and the more he does that, the easier it is for everyone else.’’

There it was again: Thibodeau all but begging Rose to understand the importance his attack game has and not settle for long jumpers, especially early in a possession.

Will it sink in this time? That will be up to Rose, who seems comfortable with the decisions he’s making on the floor and also seems to have the backing of his teammates — even when he’s taking a season-high 25 shots, as he did against the Nuggets.

‘‘Even though when you’re missing shots like I am the last couple of games, teammates [are] still giving me the ball in position to shoot the ball,’’ Rose said. ‘‘I’m a fortunate man. I’m very fortunate.’’

That’s one way to describe it.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

Twitter: @suntimes_hoops

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