Once in a while, your most important player will do more harm than good. Derrick Rose had a n awful performance that was the main reason the Chicago Bulls lost 93-86 to the Atlanta Hawks, led by Al Horford and continue to be the most pleasant surprise in the NBA.
Rose shot the amount of times like a superstar would, but his form has fluctuated between great and abysmal this season, even if he’s doing better than his short-lived comeback attempt from a year ago. Rose shot just 6-of-21 from the field, his second worst shooting performance this season in games he attempted at least 11 field goals. He missed all of his seven 3-point attempts, and the message from this performance was clear: There’s no need for him to act like he’s Kobe Bryant.
Rose did finish with 8 assists, but his cold hand from about everywhere on the floor ruined momentum and comeback attempts by the Bulls too many times. As a team they shot 37.6% from the field and only 20.7% from beyond the arc. When you’re shooting so badly it does allow a team to improve their offensive rebounding numbers (grabbing 15, including five by Taj Gibson), but even the second chance points wouldn’t come.
The Hawks got 21 points and 10 rebounds from Al Horford, who also added six assists in a fantastic game under the basket against Gibson and Pau Gasol. Paul Millsap scored 17 points, Kyle Korver finished with 12 points, all on 3-point shots and Jeff Teague also scored 12, putting on a very good defensive performance to make things as difficult as possible for Rose, who also turned the ball over six times in a bad performance.
The thing is that Rose has no need to play like he’s the only one out there. The Bulls might be missing Joakim Noah, but this offseason has been about adding offensive weapons, while improving others. Jimmy Butler scored 22 points to lead the team and is more than willing to take on more shots. Pau Gasol scored 13 points and could have seen more touches. That goes for about everyone, although in general, this was also one of those days when shots wouldn’t drop.
The bench was just as disappointing as Nikola Mirotic scored just three points on 1-of-7 from the field, while Kirk Hinrich missed all of his seven attempts, finishing with 0 points. The Hawks didn’t have anyone doing especially well coming off the bench, but still got 24 points from their second unit, including 8 from Elton Brand on just 14 minutes. Excellent transition defense, allowing the Bulls just 3 points on 10 turnovers, was a big part of their excellent defensive performance.
Whether or not the Hawks are for real now that they have Horford healthy, unlike last season which still ended with a playoff appearance, will be answered a bit deeper into the season. As for the Bulls, bumps in the road are acceptable, but the team shouldn’t look this bad, regardless of who is missing, considering the players that were on the floor for most of the night. Derrick Rose is the key to making a championship challenge, but a bad game from him could be very costly to a team that needs to be about more than just one player.