DENVER – There is life from Derrick Rose.
And not just in the box score.
Without question the numbers have been improved over the last month. The usually up- and-down Bulls point guard has found consistency in that department, finally understanding that “Attack-mode Derrick’’ is a way better player than “Jump-shot Derrick.’’
No, the life that Rose seems most proud of is his maturation as not only a leader, but a vocal leader.
“Yeah, yeah, like even [Wednesday against the Kings] when ‘Twaun [E’Twaun Moore] missed a couple shots or when he was penetrating and got called up in the air and didn’t know what to do, just talking to him a little bit more,’’ Rose said. “Just telling everybody to run down the floor. Taj [Gibson], just encouraging him, because he had a handful down there with ‘Boogie’ [DeMarcus Cousins]. Just trying to talk a little bit more cause it’s coming. I wouldn’t say it’s all the way there, but that’s an area I’m trying to improve on.
“It’s starting to come easier. Talking before the games, talking in the huddle. Just giving the guys the keys to the game. Like [against the Kings] I said if we came out and jumped on them, it should be an easy game. We did that. We played from a lead the entire game, and I think that changed the way we played.’’
It might also change the way his teammates look at Rose.
The days of that “humble kid from Englewood’’ played out years ago, about the same time that Rose seemed more concerned about his brand rather than coming back from injury despite being cleared by team doctors.
This year’s version of the Bulls, however, has needed something more.
With Joakim Noah’s role diminished, and now all but silent because of a season-ending shoulder injury, as well as players still getting used to Jimmy Butler’s hostile takeover of the leadership helm, Rose speaking up carries weight.
“A lot of people say that,’’ Rose said. “For me it’s like, I really don’t know how to put it, but a lot of people want me to speak more, but it’s got to come to me in a natural way.’’
OK, so he’s pacing himself, and that’s fine. Where he hasn’t been pacing himself is in attacking the rim.
After Rose averaged 13.3 points per game in November, and then went up to 15.3 in December, since Jan. 1, Rose has averaged 17.5 points per game, and improved his field goal percentage along the way.
And while his 21 points in the win over the Kings was much needed, the nine assists and six rebounds with Butler (left knee) sidelined were huge.
It not only ended a two-game losing streak, but the hope was it once again helped jumpstart some sort of winning spark for this underachieving group.
“We could be playing five people in the park,’’ Rose said. “Any wins, period. When you win it takes care of a lot of things. You’re able to sleep more comfortably at night. You’re able to wake up more easy, go through shootaround more easy. You don’t have that anxiety before the game starts because you want to get the win so bad.
“For me I’m more comfortable. [Wednesday] was going to be a good peaceful night.’’
Rose and the Bulls definitely needed one of those.