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Derrick Rose’s game changing for better after injury

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Updated: November 28, 2013 6:54AM



Derrick Rose didn’t need the 8-0 preseason record.

Save that achievement for coach Tom Thibodeau, who believes scrimmages should be coached with the same intensity as Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

For Rose, it was about getting back to the business of dominating after sitting out all of last season.

“It was important for me to play this many games, and it gave me time to really shake some of the rust off,’’ Rose said. “Just playing with my teammates, getting used to playing with them, that communication with them, I think it’s going to help make me a better player.’’

Rose, who missed 18 months with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, played in seven preseason games. He averaged 20.7 points and five assists and shot 44 percent from beyond the three-point line.

“I bet I surprised a lot of people, but at the same time, I know how hard I worked in the offseason just to get back on the court,’’ Rose said. “My hard work is paying off. I’m not in my groove yet, but I’m still able to go out there and control the game a little bit. I guess when I get back into my groove, it’s really going to be scary.’’

The time off taught Rose how to be a better leader and more vocal. He isn’t just driving the bus anymore. He’s assigning seats for his teammates.

“His leadership was on point,’’ forward Carlos Boozer said. “You can tell from Day 1 he was confident in that role and confident in his teammates. Man, he looks great, even better than before to me.’’

That’s hard to fathom, considering Rose was the 2011 MVP and considered one of the elite players in the NBA before his injury.

But looking back, even Rose sees a different type of player.

“I think then I was just running,’’ Rose said of the way he used to play. “[Now, I’m] just controlling the game as a point guard, instead of just coming down. I think I’m shooting less shots this year, getting to the line more, just being smarter, being more efficient. I think [previous years] I was just coming down, jacking shots sometimes. But this year, that’s going to change.’’

According to Thibodeau, for the Bulls to get where they want to be, it needed to change.

“I think, physically, he’s great, and I think that’s important,’’ Thibodeau said. “You can see his confidence has grown, but we can’t rely on Derrick to bail us out every time. We need everybody. We need Joakim [Noah] playing great, need Carlos [Boozer] playing great, Lu [Deng] playing great, Jimmy [Butler], the bench. We need everybody.

“The talent is pretty easy to see. When you look at a player, particularly a player like Derrick, what you don’t see are all the intangibles that he brings to the team. The confidence he can bring to the team.

“But the confidence doesn’t come from a false bravado. It comes from his preparation, his study and the work he puts into every day. The best thing about him is he’s a team-first guy. He’s committed to playing for the team, and that’s special.’’

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com



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