MIAMI — Derrick Rose took some positive steps Thursday, especially when they came within 10 feet of the basket.
Sure, Rose’s return was only two games old after the Bulls’ 89-78 come-from-behind victory Thursday against the Miami Heat. And, sure, there are still some growing pains accompanying it. But it’s amazing what he is capable of when he listens to some coaching advice.
After Rose’s 1-for-6 showing from three-point range in a loss Wednesday to the Orlando Magic, coach Tom Thibodeau again had to remind Rose about his strengths and weaknesses. Specifically, he had to tell him that attacking the rim is his strength and that three-point shooting isn’t.
Rose went 0-for-3 from three-point range against the Heat, not doing anything to help his 28.4 percent shooting from that distance for the season.
But he also attacked. Finally.
‘‘I want to see him attack the basket,’’ Thibodeau said again. ‘‘You’ve gotta realize that he’s been out a long time. I thought right before the All-Star break he had a great blend going. He had the attacks on the basket when the floor was spread, he had the mid-range going, the in-between. When you look back at the start of his career, that was really his strength. . . . So I think he’ll get back to that. You’ve gotta give him some time.’’
Unfortunately, time is something Rose doesn’t have with only three regular-season games left. That’s why what he and his teammates did in the third quarter against a Heat team fighting for its playoff life was so important.
After a second quarter in which the Bulls (47-32) were outscored 33-12 and all but left for dead, a reminder about fundamentals from Thibodeau and a motivational speech from veteran center Nazr Mohammed at the half resulted in a completely different looking team.
The Bulls outscored the Heat 33-8 in the third quarter, then scored the first six points of the fourth for a 39-8 run.
Rose was part of the third-quarter barrage, attacking the paint with floaters and scoring four of his 12 points.
‘‘I pushed myself to attack the rim a little bit more,’’ Rose said. ‘‘And just learning how to fall, learning how to land when you get hit and learning how to play through contact.’’
Thibodeau would have loved to keep Rose in the game longer, but he again was working on a minutes restriction. Rose played 20 minutes, 22 seconds after putting in just less than 20 minutes Wednesday against the Magic. His hope is that changes as the playoffs near.
‘‘I want to increase it, but who knows?’’ Rose said. ‘‘If you think about the playoffs, you want to
increase my minutes just so that I can get used to playing them.’’
For now, the Bulls are a half-game ahead of the Toronto Raptors in the battle for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, but they know they can play better.
‘‘I really hope so,’’ center Joakim Noah said when asked whether the comeback could spark something bigger. ‘‘I think that everybody is kind of into their situation a little bit sometimes, but we gotta put it all on the team — all our energy, all our focus on the team. I think we did that in the second half, and I think it was big for us.’’