There’s an unspoken law in the NBA stipulating that every player, no matter how outerworldly their abilities, has to exorcise all his demons, woefully fail even, before he can ever truly began to overly succeed on the postseason stage.
LeBron James is still dealing with the specter of the Boston Celtics. Isiah Thomas had the exact same struggles. Even Michael Jordan had to overcome the Detroit Pistons. But in the case of Derrick Rose, well, let’s just say he’s yet to meet his waterloo.
With the Chicago Bulls locked in a 1-1 Eastern Conference semifinals round deadlock with the Atlanta Hawks, the youngest MVP in league history more than rose to the occasion, exploding for a career-high 44 points and seven assists in leading the visiting Bulls to a 99-82 romp over the Hawks Friday night. “Just attacking the whole game,” said Rose. “That was my whole thought process.”
And the 22-year-old all-star guard never deviated from it. Rose dominated from the opening tip, weaving to the basket for a score in the opening minute that prompted an Atlanta timeout, then with chants of “MVP, MVP” cascading from the rafters he fired back-to- back 3 pointers midway through the fourth quarter to stretch the Bulls lead back to 15.
“Yeah, I wanted to get my groove back,” said Rose, who joined Jordan, Ben Gordon and Flynn Robinson as the only players in franchise history to score 40 or more points in a playoff game. “He’s tough to cover anyway,” said Atlanta guard Jeff Teague, who had that unenviable task for most of the night. “But when his jump shot is falling, he’s the MVP.”
Taj Gibson added 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Joakim Noah grabbed 13 boards. Game 4 is Sunday night in Atlanta.