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updated: 11/7/2010 8:58 PM

Rose determined to master art of the last-second shot

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  • Derrick Rose, driving to the basket past the Knicks' Toney Douglas on Thursday, wants to be the player his team can count on in the closing seconds.

    Derrick Rose, driving to the basket past the Knicks' Toney Douglas on Thursday, wants to be the player his team can count on in the closing seconds.
    Associated Press


Like every other kid who has ever shot baskets on the playground by himself, Derrick Rose used to count down the clock, challenging himself to knock down an imaginary game-winner.

Now well on his way to becoming a repeat NBA all-star, the game-winning basket at the buzzer has been elusive for Rose.

To be fair, not many NBA players can be considered good at this particular skill. Denver's Carmelo Anthony, who visits the United Center on Monday, might be the best at it.

With the game on the line and defenders dug in, it's not easy to get even a clean look at the basket, let alone drain a shot. Rose connected once since joining the Bulls, a running 10-footer with 5.4 seconds left that beat Washington in double overtime last Jan. 15.

He got the first opportunity of his third NBA season Friday in Boston. Rose let the clock wind down but lost the ball when he tried to put a move on Rajon Rondo, a very strong defender, and didn't get a shot off.

Failure is never a pleasant topic, but Rose was willing to discuss the play and situation Sunday at the Berto Center.

"I knew what I wanted to do with that shot was a step back," Rose said. "But I've just got to make it cleaner and make sure I make him go in the direction I want him to go, so that I could go the other way.

"We kind of collided toward the end and it messed everything up."

It's easy to say the Bulls should have run an actual play instead of isolating Rose with a chance to win at the end of the fourth quarter. Coach Tom Thibodeau pointed out that every pass is a risk, since a turnover or a miss with time left on the clock gives the opponent a chance to win.

"I'm confident in his ability in those situations," Thibodeau said. "It didn't work out that time. I'm certain it will work out next time."

How to get those last-second shots to fall is one of the great mysteries in basketball.

Most teams choose not to go inside in late-game situations because it's easier to bring a double-team and some of the league's most talented big men are poor free-throw shooters. Or quite often, referees are reluctant to call fouls when the game is at stake.

One case study from the Bulls' past is Jalen Rose.

The team stunk back then, but there were several occasions when the now-retired Rose would bury 5 or 6 shots in a row to rally the Bulls in the fourth quarter.

But when he got a chance to tie or win the game, he'd often toss up a crazy shot, then stand with his arms raised complaining about the lack of a foul call, while the opposing team converted a game-clinching lay-in.

While the Boston game was an exception, Derrick Rose almost always gets a good look when he has had a game-winning opportunity.

He had a buzzer shot against Portland last year where he drew contact and still put a driving lay-in right on target. But the ball rolled off the rim, the referee swallowed his whistle, and the game went to overtime.

"Of course that's a bigger shot," Rose said. "Everybody's looking at you; everybody's keying in on you. Your focus has got to be high when you're in that type of situation and you've just got to key in a little bit more."

Maybe Bulls fans (and reporters) expect too much after watching Michael Jordan get it done so many times. One thing for sure, Rose will keep getting the call with the game on the line.

"I'm going to have a lot more," he said. "Hopefully I'll hit more than last year."