WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Derrick Rose was miserable after failing in the clutch in Sunday afternoon's loss to the Miami Heat. He couldn't believe he missed two foul shots late in the game that would have given his team the lead. He couldn't believe he missed a shot at the buzzer that would have tied it.
When a reporter asked the reigning MVP whether or not he would have a tough time getting over the loss heading into Monday's contest against the Washington Wizards, Rose responded quickly.
"Hell no," he said. "It just makes me hungrier. Where tonight, I'm going to try and go crazy."
Rose went off for 35 points and completely overwhelmed the Wizards offensively in the Chicago Bulls' 98-88 win on Monday night.
Rose wasn't the only one who saw the performance coming. His teammate and good friend Joakim Noah wasn't surprised at all that Rose came back with a vengeance.
"He came up huge like usual," Noah said. "We're not worried about that guy. He's the ultimate competitor and he came to play tonight. He always does. We win and lose by that guy and most of the time we're going to win."
As far as this Bulls season is concerned, truer words haven't been spoken. When Rose puts his mind to something he can do almost anything he wants on the basketball court. The key for the Bulls is that Rose is so beloved and admired by his teammates that they almost always follow his lead.
"He set the tone," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He's been doing that. I think he's feeling a lot better. It's his will. He imposes his will on everybody. He made us very aggressive. I thought as a team everybody did a good job being ready to play, which I thought would be critical for this game."
There were plenty of people who wondered if Rose and the Bulls would be able to move past such a jarring defeat to their arch rival on Sunday. They wondered if Rose could get past the mental hurdle and faltering down the stretch. But Thibodeau made sure that Rose and the rest of his teammates were mentally locked in on this night and that made all the difference.
"Thibs, he's definitely the best coach I've had," Rose said. "Where he holds you accountable for every single thing. Where he puts a lot of pressure on you as a player. But he's a great coach. He makes sure everybody's keyed in and focused in what we have to do to win that game."
"He was just telling us that he was more scared about this game than [Sunday's] game," Rose said.
When people wonder why Rose is so successful, they don't have to look far. His work ethic is off the charts, but he clearly listens to and respects his coach. He trusts that Thibodeau will put him in the right places to succeed and he knows that Thibodeau is always striving to make him better. Good enough is never truly good enough for either man and that is one of the biggest reasons why they work so well together.
"He got to the line 15 times," Thibodeau said of his star pupil. "He's in the paint, he's making plays. He's playing really good defense, running the team.
Of course, even Thibodeau couldn't keep things completely positive.
"I suppose if you want to nitpick he probably could have gotten a couple rebounds," the veteran coach said. "Other than that … he's playing at a very, very high level right now."
It's a level that Rose continues to push to a higher place almost every night. He might have moved past Sunday's loss to the Heat, but he certainly won't forget it. He will learn from it and become even better because of the experience.
"I just played my game, man," Rose said. "That's me being aggressive. Thibs always tells me just to play my game and everybody will follow."