Derrick Rose took over last night's game early with a defensive effort we have not seen this year. Nick Friedell tweeted before last night's game that coaches were emphasizing defense with Rose, and he seems to have been listening:
Derrick's defensive focus could be seen from tipoff, where he opened the game with outstanding man to man defense on Monta Ellis. Notice how adeptly Derrick uses his feet, rather than hands, to force Monta into a bad pass.
From here, Derrick went on to display his full offensive arsenal, beginning with a nice pull up jumper using the glass. Derrick looks to have spent the offseason developing a bank shot, and has been going to it with confidence throughout the season.
While many fans may have noticed Derrick's impressive offensive outburst, where he really shone in the first quarter was defensively. Remember the forced turnover on Monta Ellis? That was the start to an inconspicuously dominant defensive performance.
First Derrick was able to prevent an opposing score on a two on one fast break. Since these two on one advantages almost always result in points for the other team, a pure stop is considered a huge win.
On the next play we see Derrick's weak help create a difficult shot for Paul George:
Here's where Derrick really starts stepping up the intensity to force turnovers, stripping the ball down low and preventing an easy dunk.
Followed by Derrick preventing another fast break layup by getting Paul George to step out of bounds:
And Derrick doing something we never see him do, cheat a la Jordan vs. Karl Malone and sneak blindside for a steal:
All in all, we see Derrick force three turnovers and account for three defensive stops. Twice he prevents fast break layups, and he strips what would otherwise have been an easy dunk.
It was a surprisingly great defensive effort by Derrick that proved to be necessary in a close win. When Derrick gives full effort on defense, we see that he has the ability to be a great defender. Hopefully this is the start of a trend we will continue to see throughout the season.