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Bulls’ Derrick Rose can’t slay LeBron James on his own

Derrick Rose trying get around Mike Bibby had his moments against HeTuesday night but struggled from field.  |

Derrick Rose, trying to get around Mike Bibby, had his moments against the Heat on Tuesday night but struggled from the field. | Lynne Sladky~AP

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Updated: June 26, 2011 12:41AM

MIAMI — It was starting to get embarrassing.

Not only did Derrick Rose not look like the MVP of the league. He didn’t even look like he should be playing in front of Bulls reserve guard C.J. Watson. It was that bad.

In 41/2 minutes while subbing for Rose in the first half, Watson had six points on 3-for-4 shooting. In 12 minutes in the first quarter, Rose had four points on 2-for-9 shooting, 0-for-5 on three-pointers, with two turnovers and zero assists.

If there’s a proper word beyond frustrated — something between pestered and homicidal — that’s where Rose was.

The Heat’s defensive attack consists of clamping on him like a fist soon after he brings the ball over the halfcourt line. Nobody can take on three or four defenders single-handedly. Not even the MVP. So his options are to pass, drive or make some kind of jump shot.

Rose was throwing turnovers, getting nowhere on his drives and missing his J’s.

Meanwhile, the Heat’s LeBron James was playing like a giant roused from slumber. The 6-8 elite athlete had basically slept through the Heat’s Game 1 loss. In Games 2 and 3, he extended himself nicely. But now he was playing the way ‘‘The Chosen One’’ should. He was playing, as the New York Times elegantly put it earlier in these
playoffs, ‘‘as superstars are
expected, with willful aggression and an appropriate dose of entitlement.’’

That didn’t stop him from getting a charging call in the final seconds of regulation. But it gave him the strength to stop Rose on his final
attempt with the score still tied at 85 and the clock running to zero.

What was happening earlier was that Rose was stymied. He’s not a great three-point shooter, nor is he a great midrange shooter. He is good at both things, but not great.

There’s no one on the planet better at splitting close defenders and exploding to the rim or blasting downcourt on a breakaway that seems powered by dragster fuel. But he’s only 6-3, and the Heat defense challenges him with James, 6-4 Dwyane Wade and 6-11 Chris Bosh. All are nearly as quick and high-jumping as Rose, and Bosh, of course, is a giant.

MVP bounces back

But Rose, whose new-model adiZero Adidas shoes were promoted on TV for this game, was quietly infuriated by his early impotence. He never did find his shooting touch — finishing with 23 points on 8-for-27 shooting — and, in the end, he likely could not have slain the Goliath James, who had 35 points, six rebounds, six assists, three blocks and his own chants of ‘‘MVP’’ rocking the house.

But if solace can be taken for the Bulls in this crushing 101-93 defeat that puts the Heat up 3-1, it’s that Rose came back from what was nearly a stone-cold clunker for him. I mean, you go 1-for-9 from the three-point line and have seven turnovers, you better have shown some juice somewhere along
the line.

And Rose did for a spell in the second quarter. After a five-minute rest at the start of the second period, he came in and got called for an offensive foul and had a shot blocked so hard by James, it looked like the Chosen One was going to throw it out of the arena.

That did it. Rose went to the
basket with a fury. He violently dunked the ball two-handed and got the foul. Then he drove down the left side of the lane and lifted off and smashed the ball double-
handed over 6-9, 245-pound Heat center Joel Anthony.

There, children, is a poster for eternity, one that Anthony might want to burn or have his face blurred out of.

Rose continued to attack the hole, sometimes trying to dribble through defenders who were almost stacked like cones in a parking lot.

Not a fair fight

It was impossible many times. If you can’t make a long jumper or four, defenders will be ready for anything you might do that involves close-in stuff.

Indeed, Rose had another shot blocked about 12 feet off the floor by the amazingly athletic Wade.

There are athletes galore on this Heat team, and perhaps there is only Rose who is mind-blowingly skilled on the Bulls.

In the overtime, he had lost his jazz.

The incredible James, who’s five inches and 50 pounds heavier than Rose, guarded him, and the strain showed. Never an easy shot, never a free opening.

‘‘I mean, the MVP has a lot of energy,’’ James said afterward.

It wasn’t clear if there was irony or sarcasm intended there. Didn’t seem like it.

But James had his way Tuesday night.

Rose only had his highlight reel.

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