Loss wasn’t Derrick Rose’s fault, but he just didn’t do enough

SHARE Loss wasn’t Derrick Rose’s fault, but he just didn’t do enough

Everybody’s beat up this postseason.

The NBA is so full of beat-up players, it makes you wonder why there’s a regular season at all.

This is just a way of saying that being beat up — body abused, achy beyond belief — is pretty much the norm on every playoff team.

Derrick Rose’s multiple knee surgeries don’t make him exceptional in the damage department at this time of year.

And now he has lots of time to rest. Months.

Maybe you thought this close-out 94-73 loss to the Cavaliers was not going to be so sad or lopsided because LeBron James has a sprained ankle or Kyrie Irving has one leg. Or that starting center Anderson Varejao has been out since Dec. 23 and starting forward Kevin Love just had shoulder surgery.

But you’d be wrong.

Irving went out in the first half after reinjuring his left knee, and big minutes thus came to backup Matthew Dellavedova.

You remember him from the ultra-sneaky leg scissors he clamped on Taj Gibson in Game 5, earning Gibson a surprise technical foul and ejection.

Well, Dellavedova started the second half, had 16 points in those two quarters and finished with 19.

When Rose sent the feisty Cavs villain flying with a lowered shoulder with three minutes to go in the third quarter, the Bulls were down by 16 points.

They had scored seven points in nine minutes.

It wasn’t all, or even particularly, Rose’s fault.

He would finish 7-for-16 from the field, but at one point in the first quarter, he was 5-for-8.

And if Dellavedova — from Australia, that hotbed of basketball — could fire it up and inspire his team, why couldn’t Rose?

‘‘We never, ever made excuses,’’ Cavaliers coach David Blatt said of his team’s wounds.

Maybe this Bulls franchise is hopeless, forever doomed to lose to James-led teams.

This loss truly was embarrassing.

Either the Bulls gave up or they have been fooling people for a long time, making us think they had something special put together.

But center Joakim Noah has declined so spectacularly from last season when he was an All-Star and the NBA Defensive Player of the Year, that you wonder if even knee-strengthening will help him. He finally scored with five minutes left in the rout — on an assist from Rose.

The crowd cheered sarcastically.

Yes, this Bulls team will be broken up in various ways. And, yes, Tom Thibodeau likely will be coaching another team next season. (While we’re at it, don’t forget how dumb, idiotic, mindless and clueless Blatt is. You know, the coach who’s advancing to the conference finals. The one everybody fell all over themselves mocking after Game 4. Terrible coach. Who’d want him?)

But Rose is still the crux of the Bulls. The money’s in him. The hope’s in him. And his play is not that of a superstar.

That is, it can’t be depended on. Up, down. Good game, bad game. Not what superstars do.

He had 14 points, six assists and two rebounds in 36 minutes. Blah.

He was outscored by that rascal Dellavedova. He got to watch Doug McDermott play a couple of minutes at the end. That, in itself, is embarrassing.

It was actually painful to see what happened in the United Center hallway several minutes after the game was over, after most players had long cleared the floor.

A mighty cheer went up from the Cavaliers’ coaches, staff and players clustered outside the visitors’ locker-room door — a big hoorah the likes of which you’d give to a hunter returning with the wolf pelt.

It was for Dellavedova, who came trotting down the hall after being interviewed on the court. He had a grin the size of a pumpkin’s, and he hugged everyone in sight.

Thank God, the Bulls didn’t have to witness it.

‘‘I want to say this about Derrick,’’ Thibodeau said at the dais. ‘‘It’s been a long year. And I think he’s regained his confidence.’’

The first part is certainly true. Maybe the second is, too. Hard to say.

But it has been said that confidence comes from success achieved over and over. Otherwise, it’s just posturing.

Rose is no poseur, and we’ll hope the offseason brings his rehab miseries to a close.

But we don’t know if that will happen. And we saw this last game, and we cringe.

His teammates did little. And he didn’t do much himself.

Email: rtelander@suntimes.com

Twitter: @ricktelander

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