9:33 AM CST, March 8, 2012
It might be that the best thing for the Bulls on Wednesday night was the worst thing for the Bulls’ pursuit of Thursday's visitor Dwight Howard.
If they are actually pursuing Howard, that is, which they do not appear to be doing, which I don’t like.
But anyway, Derrick Rose hit that omigod game-winner in Milwaukee the way he has hit the same kind of videogame shots for the last two weeks.
It’s not just that Rose was playing hero --- everybody knew he would play hero and the Bucks still couldn’t stop him --- but it also has been the way he played hero.
Recently, he found himself forced into awkward spots, most notably driving left and shooting right to sink the floater that sunk Philadelphia. Before that, the Hornets and Spurs games closed with equally impossible shots requiring cartoonish body contortions.
But against the Bucks, Rose was channeling his inner Michael. He had a Kobe-ness about him. Count down the clock, go with four seconds remaining, read the defender, nothing but net.
Truth is, the game never should’ve been that close, not against a Bucks team that was missing Andrew Bogut and was stuck with Brandon Jennings’ pathetic shooting. The Bulls shouldn’t have needed Rose’s heroics, but they decided to ignore defensive rotation principles.
Either that, or they all had Ersan Ilyasova on their fantasy teams.
By the way, MVP voters, Rose’s latest highlight came on a night when LeBron James stood in the corner while Dwyane Wade took care of last-second matters.
And maybe all of that is the reason Howard doesn’t list the Bulls as a destination.
I get the feeling that Howard doesn’t want to be traded to the Bulls because he doesn’t want to be the second option.
Of course, he seemingly has been the first option in Orlando, and how many rings does he have to show for it?
Truth is, I’m not sure what Howard wants because at various points he has said he wants to stay in Orlando and wants to be traded to New Jersey and wants to be traded to the Lakers and Lord knows who else.
Howard seems like a guy who doesn’t want to make a decision that upsets people. He seems to want people to like him, which will never happen when a guy has to make a franchise-changing decision. So, some team is going to have to trust Howard’s insecurity.
Some team also is going to have to trust that Howard desperately wants to win. I’m not sure I’m convinced. The barometer for selflessness and the unrelenting desire to win is everything you see in Rose. Nobody gets that from Howard, and I hate that someone so big and talented seems so blasé about the only thing that should matter to a professional.
I’m hypnotized by the pretty shiny thing that is the best center in the NBA and imagining how different and intimidating the Bulls would be with him. I fear his horrific free-throw shooting. I fear a Hack-a-Howard strategy would take him out of the Bulls offense in the fourth quarter the way Carlos Boozer’s laughable act takes him out of the defense in the final period. It’s possible that even with Howard, the Bulls still wouldn’t have a second scoring option when James sits on Rose’s head and takes his lunch money.
I want Howard to want to come to Rose’s low post. I wrote that the Bulls should want to make that move after Richard Hamilton’s latest injury. Remember, you can’t spell “Crippled’’ without “R-I-P.’’
Thing is, I apparently want it more than Howard does, and that’s a problem. Maybe Howard is too stupid to know who the best point guard in the league is. Sounds like Howard has this Deron Williams fixation. Not to demean Williams, but while he’s a star, he’s not THE star point guard.
The Bulls are Rose’s team. The Bulls are closer to a title than any team except the Heat. Howard, though, has other ideas, whatever they are. While I think the Bulls grow into a more dominant team with Howard than the one they have now, I have to admit I’ve lost some of my nerve in lobbying for a costly deal for someone too stupid to know where he ought to go.
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