MILWAUKEE – There were plenty of directions to point fingers.
Unfortunately, that practice usually begins and ends with the perceived face of the franchise, and at least on Saturday, Derrick Rose wasn’t hiding from that.
“I really believe that I’m built for this [bleep],’’ Rose said, following the heart-breaking 92-90 Game 4 loss. “I don’t feel bad for myself. I feel bad for my teammates knowing we could’ve forced overtime. I messed things up. But I swear I’m built for it.’’
Rose better be, because it’s only going to get harder from here on out.
But before jumping to the second round and a brewing showdown with the Cleveland Cavaliers, first things first. And that meant trying to close out a Milwaukee team in their own backyard with the sweep in the best-of-seven series.
Well, actually 28 – the season-high turnover total for the Bulls in the loss.
With the game tied 90-90 and 19 seconds left, coach Tom Thibodeau put the ball in Rose’s hands, despite the fact that he was just 5-for-13 up to that point and had turned the ball over seven times. Turnover number eight came with just under two seconds left, as Rose was stripped by Khris Middleton.
Bucks coach Jason Kidd called the timeout and went to the dry board for a game-winning play. The goal? Attack Rose.
With Jared Dudley inbounding, he saw Rose fall asleep under the basket against Jerryd Bayless, and threw the perfect entry pass for the quick lay-up.
Just like that it was see you Monday night for Game 5.
“I thought Rose relaxed for a second,’’ Kidd said. “That’s the hardest part, the guy passing the ball. Having the recognition to make that pass. The guy that scored the ball set Rose up, sold it well.’’
There went the sweep, and the fact that Jimmy Butler was again a force, scoring a game-high 33 points.
“I put that all on me,’’ Rose said. “Just wasn’t paying attention to the ball. Great call from JKidd.’’
Thibodeau wasn’t about to put the blame on Rose, and as far as the learning experience? The coach made it very clear that the learning starts and ends with protecting the ball.
“Yeah, and I just told the team this, I’m not going to put it on that last play,’’ Thibodeau said. “There were a lot of other plays throughout the course of the game. When you turn the ball over like that you’re not going to have success. We made the run at the end, had the chance, we botched the last play, but we botched a bunch of plays before that, so we’re going to have to straighten that out.’’
The Cavaliers have their potential close-out game on Sunday, and for a Bulls team that needs the rest, keeping the Bucks around isn’t exactly good for business.
“I’m not thinking about Cleveland and Boston,’’ Thibodeau said. “There’s a lot of work to be done. We’re going to have to get it done quickly.’’