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Blazer backs off diss of Rose’s 'D'


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Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

SALT LAKE CITY — After criticizing Derrick Rose’s ability to play defense after the Bulls’ loss Monday night in Portland, Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum apparently had a case of trash-talker’s remorse Tuesday and backed off the comment.

But that wasn’t before the harsh words — reported by multiple Blazers beat writers — lit up the Internet.

‘‘We know that Derrick Rose is a good offensive player,’’ Batum was quoted as saying in the Oregonian. ‘‘But you have to play defense, too. He can’t guard [Andre Miller]. You gotta play defense. He can’t play defense, so that’s why we put ’Dre inside and try to attack him. He did a great job.’’

After the Bulls’ practice session Tuesday, Rose laughed off the comments.

‘‘Ah, man, he threw me under the bus, didn’t he?’’ Rose said with a smile. ‘‘No, everybody has their opinion. I know that I can play defense. It is what it is.’’

Asked if the comment upset him, Rose said: ‘‘No, not at all. That’s his opinion. Everybody has their opinion.’’

But Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau didn’t dismiss the comments as easily.

‘‘I watch [Rose] all year, I know the progress that he makes, so I don’t really care what other people say,” Thibodeau said. ‘‘What’s important is what we think, his coaches, his teammates. And like I said, he’s done a very good job all year long.

‘‘Our defense, based on that game, was poor. I would say our defense overall for the year has been good — not great, good. We have a lot of room to improve, and Derrick has been very good all year long. As a team, we didn’t play well [Monday].’’

The story might have died down at that point, but it took a strange turn when Batum, who is from France, wrote a blog on a French-language website explaining what he meant to say.

According to a translation on, the blog, in part, read:

‘‘I would like to start this blog by saying that I never said, ‘Derrick Rose can’t play defense.’ What I said was Derrick Rose is a better offensive player than he is on defense. And, in a game like that, if we can get him to play defense, that can get him in trouble and be better for us, especially if we can get him in foul trouble. This is why Andre Miller attacked on offense so much, because Rose couldn’t foul him, and he couldn’t foul him because they needed him on the court.

‘‘But I never said he can’t play defense, because if he wanted to defend, he could take the court away from you. And also . . . me. I played at the Hoop Summit against him, and when we played against the USA this summer . . . I can tell you he does indeed know how to defend. Trust me, I’ve seen him at work on the defensive end.’’

Only Batum knows for sure what he really meant to say, but there was no apparent ambiguity in his postgame comment, especially considering that multiple reporters quoted him similarly.

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