Derrick Rose Hero Ball had been failing all fourth quarter, and it looked like the Bulls were going to lose a heartbreaker to the Knicks on Halloween night at the United Center. But one high-arcing floater later, Rose was the hero and the Bulls eked out a thrilling 82-81 victory.
Rose struggled for much of the night, going just 7-of-23 from the field and turning it over four times. Things were especially ugly in the fourth quarter, with Rose making countless bad decisions by driving recklessly to the basket and getting himself into bad spots.
The Bulls' offense as a whole was terrible in the final frame. When Rose wasn't careening toward the rim praying for a foul, there was little movement, poor spacing and general sloppiness. The Bulls shot just 2-of-15 (both makes by Rose) in the final quarter and turned it over seven times.
Rose redeemed himself though with 5.7 seconds left, with the Bulls running one of their bread-and-butter late-game plays to help free him for his floater, a shot he hasn't shown much of yet this season. After Carmelo Anthony bricked a contested jumper, it was time for the Bulls to celebrate.
Rose finished with 18 points on the night, while Luol Deng had 17 points and Carlos Boozer had 14. For the Knicks, Anthony had 22 points, but he shot just 8-of-24 and went 2-of-7 in the fourth quarter. Tyson Chandler had a big game, snaring 19 rebounds and creating numerous second opportunities with his tap-outs. It was Chandler who put the Knicks ahead 81-80 when his hustle drew a foul on Joakim Noah that sent him to the line.
Both teams shot pretty poorly overall, with the Bulls at just 40.8 percent overall and a woeful 18.8 percent from three. The lack of three-point shooting was a big issue last year, and it has been just as big a problem this year. Luckily, the Bulls held the Knicks to 36.0 percent from the field.
The Bulls actually came out of the gates running, really pushing the ball in transition, forcing turnovers and getting some easy baskets against the Knicks' big lineup. Deng started hot and Boozer finished the first quarter with a flurry, scoring three buckets late to help the Bulls build a 10-point advantage after one.
The Bulls held a comfortable lead throughout the second quarter, never pulling away but never really letting the game get that close. Taj Gibson and the second unit weren't quite as helpless as they were against Miami, although the offense was still a struggle and Mike Dunleavy was an absolute non-factor.
The Bulls' lead was just five heading into the second half, but Rose broke out of his funk momentarily with back-to-back threes. Andrea Bargnani decided to actually be a serviceable basketball player, finding a little rhythm by knocking down a few jumpers to keep the Knicks in it. The Bulls opened up a 13-point lead at one point before Anthony hit one of his hot streaks to help narrow the gap.
Nevertheless, the Bulls entered the final frame ahead by 10 points and seemed like they would cruise to victory. Then the offense went in the tank and the Bulls would need Rose's last-second heroics to pull out the win.