As they say, timing is everything.
Derrick Rose is admittedly trying to shake off the rust during his time with Team USA. Early in Saturday night's exhibition against Brazil at the United Center, Rose banged a breakaway dunk off the back rim as the crowd gasped in false anticipation.
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It was his second missed dunk in three days. Rose did the same thing during Thursday's practice scrimmage. He does have a couple of excuses, though.
"Just got to get used to the ball, holding it a different way when I dunk," Rose said. "It's a different (international) ball. It's lighter, for one, and once you get sweat on it, it's pretty much over with. You've just got to learn how to play with it."
The rust is coming off, though. At the end of the first half, Rose raced the length of the floor and hit a running bank shot at the buzzer.
Late in the third quarter, Rose crossed over Brazil guard Raul Neto, blew past center Anderson Varejao and finished a left-handed scoop as the Bulls-centric crowd exploded.
Rose finished with 7 points as Team USA eased past Brazil 95-78 before a full house at the UC. A full box score was not available when the game ended, but center Anthony Davis led the U.S. with 20 points, while James Harden scored 18, Kenneth Faried had 11 and Klay Thompson 10.
"He's shaking some rust off, but his explosiveness is back," said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, a Team USA assistant. "It's unfortunate what he's gone through, but that adversity has made him a lot stronger. I love where he is, mentally and physically, right now."
Late in the game, the fans chanted, "We want Rose," and head coach Mike Krzyzewski obliged, sending Rose onto the floor almost immediately.
"I didn't react to the crowd. I would never do that," Krzyzewski said with a smile.
The Duke coach and Chicago native did try to stretch Rose's minutes, keeping him on the floor for the whole third quarter.
"One of the things about bringing a guy back is if you keep monitoring his minutes, you put a lid on him," Krzyzewski said. "He needs to learn how to play tired. We wanted to see that, and he did pretty good."
Rose was in the starting lineup with Harden, Davis, Faried and Golden State guard Steph Curry. Those five played the most, with Thompson, Kyrie Irving, Rudy Gay and Brooklyn center Mason Plumlee getting the most time off the bench.
Rose welcomed the extended minutes.
"I thought I was done until Coach K came over and told me I had to go back in (with about four minutes left)," Rose said. "It was fun. I wanted to go back out there. The group that was out there already did a great job of pushing the ball, getting the lead, playing defense."
Rose was the focus, but the star of the show was another Chicago native, New Orleans center Davis. He gave the home fans a scare by flipping over the front row of seats trying to save a loose ball but came out unscathed.
"I would have been a complete idiot if I didn't start (Davis)," Krzyzewski said. "Anthony is like one of the emerging stars. We hope what happened to a lot of those guys in 2010 will happen to him in this competition, where it just launches kind of a storied career for him. He and Derrick, both those guys are dreams to coach."
The U.S. players wore shooting shirts that read, "United We Stand," with the initials PG, in honor of Indiana's Paul George, who suffered a broken right leg in an intrasquad scrimmage in Las Vegas on Aug. 1.
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