Bulls get out of Derrick Rose’s way, reap the reward with buzzer-beater
March 7, 2012 10:38PM
Updated: April 10, 2012 11:32AM
MILWAUKEE — Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau looks like Sir Georg Solti when he orchestrates even the most ordinary of defensive possessions, with multiple options to address every possible nuance that might make a difference. But when the Bulls have the ball, the game is tied and 18 seconds are on the clock, he has the easiest job in America.
‘‘This is the play: Get the ball to D-Rose, and everybody else get out of the way,’’ Carlos Boozer said. ‘‘And it works every time.’’
Maybe not every time. But it worked Wednesday night, when Derrick Rose dribbled down the last 18 seconds of the clock in a tie game with the Milwaukee Bucks before pulling up to make a 20-foot jumper over Brandon Jennings at the buzzer that gave the Bulls a 106-104 victory before another partisan Bulls crowd at the Bradley Center.
Rose’s first true buzzer-beater in his NBA career capped an MVP-caliber effort against the star-crossed Bucks and coach Scott Skiles, who answered every challenge the Bulls presented, only to lose when they gave Rose the last at-bat.
‘‘I love it,’’ Rose said. ‘‘As a kid, those are the things that you dream about. It felt good — you’re on the road, playing against a team that’s giving their all, and you hit a nice shot like that.’’
Rose had 30 points on 8-for-22 shooting and was 14-for-14 from the free-throw line. He added 11 assists and eight rebounds to lead the Bulls (33-8) to their eighth consecutive victory and their eighth straight win against the Bucks over the last two seasons.
‘‘That shot was like a movie,’’ said Bulls center Joakim Noah, who scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. ‘‘Hit the shot, no time left on the clock. You saw the horn. The ball goes in the net. Man, that must be an unbelievable feeling to hit a shot like that. I’m happy he’s on our team.’’
‘‘A great play by him,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘He didn’t leave any time left. It was one of those games where you felt like whoever had the ball was going to score next. It’s not usually our style, but I give [the Bucks] credit. Milwaukee plays tough.’’
No matter how tough the Bucks play the Bulls, though, Thibodeau always has the trump card.
‘‘What a luxury to have,’’ Skiles said. ‘‘You don’t even need to run a play. You can just bring it in, throw it to a guy and he can get whatever shot he wants. It was an incredibly tough shot to make.’’
The Bulls never could pull away. They led by nine in the second quarter, by seven in the third quarter and by five with 1:52 to play after Rose scored on a drive to cap a 7-0 run. But each time, the Bucks answered, finally tying the game at 104 on a rebound basket by forward Ersan Ilyasova (32 points on 14-for-18 shooting) with 23 seconds to play.
The Bulls called time with 18 seconds left. And Thibodeau drew up the winning play.
‘‘We feel like we have the best closer on our team,’’ Kyle Korver said. ‘‘We have a lot of confidence in him. He has a lot of confidence in himself. We try to put him in situations where if someone does help, we’ve got people in the right spots. He wants to take that shot. He’s not scared to miss that shot. He’s just a really special player.’’