By Dan Bernstein–
Being the likely NBA Most Valuable Player is one thing. Proving it every night is another, especially when you shouldn’t have to.
The Bulls held a 22-point lead over the lowly Phoenix Suns late in the third quarter Tuesday night, and still needed Derrick Rose’s increasingly-expected heroics to bail them out after switching into cruise control, allowing the moderately-interested, out-of-shape Vince Carter to lead a comeback.
Just four days ago at the United Center, 36 points and ten assists were required from Rose to hold off a Raptors team that wasn’t kind enough to follow the script and surrender meekly. Toronto, which trailed by 13 in the first half and ten at the break, was down only four with 2:30 left. Rose’s ball-handling and passing out of traps set up several key, late scores, and he added his own, patented floater in the final minute.
That came two days after the wretched Pistons were allowed to hang around long enough to erase much of a 15-point deficit, pulling within three points three times in the game’s final 2:39. Rose, naturally, assisted on a bucket by Ronnie Brewer that gave the Bulls a six-point advantage with 30 seconds left, and then hit the two game-sealing free throws.
It’s exhilarating to watch all of this, sure, but ideally, Rose should not have to take over games against bums.
You call Superman when a runaway freight train loaded with explosives is bearing down on an orphanage – not when you locked your keys in the car. Spiderman is there for you if the Green Goblin is attacking a downtown parade on back-to-school Sunday, but he may roll his eyes at your request that he get that tennis ball out of the gutter on your garage. The Caped Crusader is not saving Gotham City from unlicensed food-truck operators selling double-chocolate whoopie-pies.
You get my drift.
Against the Celtics tonight, trying to lock up the top seed in the conference? By all means, lean on the kid. And once the playoffs start, let him do whatever he can, whenever he wants.
But not tomorrow at Cleveland, just as it should not have been in the last three.
Rose is too polite to actually say something like “Umm, guys? Any time you want to assert yourselves, that’d be fine. I’m happy to draw some attention if one of you wants to do your thing against these slobs.”
He certainly would not be begrudged, however, were he to do so. He has to be thinking it, even if he is proud of his escalating game, and fully willing to embrace the role of superstar closer.
Games against NBA dregs are perfect opportunities to simulate meaningful situations to come when postseason opponents try to take Rose away with blitzes and double-teams. Can Luol Deng create his own shot off the dribble, or get something going to the basket to grab a trip to the line? Will Carlos Boozer be the defense-balancing post option they paid for, using his polished moves to find a better shot than his recent selection of mid-range fadeaways?
Derrick Rose is becoming a great NBA player. He’s a cold, end-game killer.
Recent nights, unfortunately, have made a necessity out of what should be a luxury.
Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM. Read more of Bernstein’s blogs here. Follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.
Listen to The Boers and Bernstein Show podcasts >>