Derrick Rose's aggressive style has been great to see in the preseason. But it won't help much when the games start counting if Rose can't convert at the foul line.
In his second game since returning from knee surgery, Rose hit just 1 of 5 free throws in the first half. He rallied to knock down all 5 attempts in the second half, though, and finished with 13 points against the Memphis Grizzlies in St. Luis on Monday night.
Rose's final stat line looked like this: 23 minutes played, 3-for-8 field goals, 6-for-10 free throws, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 1 turnover. The Bulls used a big third quarter to win 106-87.
"First half was kind of jittery, but second half, came out aggressive, get to the hole, get all those butterflies out," Rose told Comcast Sports Net after the game. "I'm just happy we got the win."
Coach Tom Thibodeau added about three minutes to Rose's workload from Saturday's preseason opener at Indiana. The biggest difference was Rose cutting down on the 4 turnovers against the Pacers.
"We're just trying to shake the rust off," Rose said. "As a team, we're just trying to come together, get that chemistry. Our biggest goal is to win these games."
The Bulls' leading scorer on this night was Carlos Boozer, who scored 12 of his 16 points in the third quarter. Kirk Hinrich and Taj Gibson scored 15 each, while Luol Deng had 13.
As a team the Bulls shot 47.3 percent from the field and drained 5 of 9 attempts from 3-point range. After falling behind by double digits early, the Bulls closed within a point by halftime, then outscored the Grizzlies 37-22 in the third quarter.
Rose began the second half by knocking down his first 3-point basket of preseason off a pass from Boozer.
"I was wide open; I had to take the shot," Rose said. "I'm just trying to play smooth, do all the right things and just play my game and be aggressive."
Rose started this game the same way he did at Indiana, collecting his first basket after rebounding his own miss. A few minutes later he grabbed a defensive rebound and sailed coast to coast for a lay-in and foul.
"He's feeling great, and you're seeing those explosions to the basket," Thibodeau said. "You could tell he had a good rhythm going."
Memphis didn't use Marc Gasol, Tony Allen or Tayshaun Prince in this game. Guard Jeryd Bayless led the Grizzlies with 15 points.
The Bulls went deeper into the bench this time, using veteran guard Mike James and center Dexter Pittman during the final five minutes with Marquis Teague, Tony Snell and Erik Murphy. Pittman contributed 4 points and 4 rebounds during his brief stint on the floor.
After returning to Chicago briefly, the Bulls will spend the rest of the week in Rio de Janeiro and play the NBA's first game in South America on Saturday against Washington.