By Brendan McCaffery-
(CBS) "I just need to play."
Bulls point guard Derrick Rose's words to reporters rang out last Friday after a victory in Boston.
"I know how good I am and I know how good I'm going to be," Rose said.
Rose may know how good he's going to be, but the journey getting there matters, even in disappointments like Tuesday's night's 132-129 double overtime loss to Dallas at the United Center. It was an up-and-down performance from the former league MVP as he finished his third consecutive game this year, a first in 2014.
Chicago guard Kirk Hinrich helped force the game into the first overtime with an ill-advised shooting foul on Dallas guard Monta Ellis, putting Ellis at the line with one second left in regulation. Ellis calmly buried three free throws, tying the game at 108 apiece. Ellis then put Dallas up 121-118 in the first overtime, but the Bulls got the ball back with seven seconds left and turned to Rose.
From behind the right side of the 3-point line, Rose dribbled left, freeing himself from guard Devin Harris, and launched a running, one-handed 3-pointer that banked in, beating the buzzer and giving the frenzied United Center crowd a second overtime.
"It was just a shot," Rose said. "They gave me a clean look, I got it off, and somehow it went in."
Down 127-125 in the second overtime, Rose grabbed a defensive rebound, then fed Pau Gasol for a jumper and Joakim Noah for a dunk on back-to-back possessions, giving the Bulls at 129-127 lead with about a minute left.
The lead would not hold, however, and Rose would miss a long 3-point attempt as time expired in the second overtime, giving Dallas victory.
"It's a learning experience," Rose said. "Tonight we fought back. We didn't win the game but we fight."
Rose finished with 18 points on 6-of-20 shooting, adding 10 assists with seven turnovers in nearly 37 minutes, a season-high. At times he looked hesitant to attack the Mavs' defense at the basket, eschewing his normal go-for-broke style for a more patient, measured approach. He called his conditioning good but acknowledged that he's still figuring out how to fit back in with new (and old) teammates.
"I'm just getting a feel for the game," Rose said. "We've got numerous guys on this team that can really hold their own in the game, and that's good. My role is to just get the feel for the game and try to dictate (the game) by how I'm feeling and how the game is going."
None of this -- the feel for the game, learning how to play with teammates -- just works itself out in the blink of an eye. This is the byproduct of Rose on the floor, playing through mistakes and understanding the talent on the Bulls' roster may require a different approach from their dynamic point guard. If Rose is on board, ready to string together games in the regular season and play, as he said Friday, look out.
It's a 'journey' for McDermott
Bulls rookie forward Doug McDermott sat out Tuesday's game against Dallas with swelling in his right knee and remains day-to-day. McDermott described the injury as "minor" and hopes to return tonight at Charlotte.
McDermott struggled during the Bulls' road trip and has seen his minutes decreasing as the season progresses. He's averaging 11.6 minutes per game, 3.2 points and is shooting a poor 23 percent from the 3-point line.
Despite the slow start, coach Tom Thibodeau praised McDermott's practice habits at Tuesday's shootaround. Bulls veteran forward Mike Dunleavy cautioned patience with the young forward, noting his similar rough beginning with the Golden State Warriors after a successful college career at Duke.
"I tell (Doug) it's a journey, it's a process," Dunleavy said. "You have some guys that come in the league, and they knock it out of the park. Some guys in the league, it takes them a little bit of time. Everybody runs their own race."
In Dunleavy's first season with Golden State, in 2002-'03, he averaged 5.7 points in 15.9 minutes per night. Dunleavy shot 35 percent from 3-point range that year, below his 37 percent career mark. In 2003-'04, His next season,Dunleavy started 69 games and increased his scoring average to 11.1 points, establishing himself as a reliable wing player.
"I tell him all the time, I'm proof," Dunleavy said. "I've been in the league 13 years and shoot, man, I was the third pick and I got off to a rough start. It's only 20 games in, so just keep working at it and he'll get there."
"(McDermott) is going to be a really good player."
Brendan McCaffrey is the sports director at 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @b_mccaffrey.
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