ATLANTA -- Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau knows people will question Derrick Rose's shot selection after a painful Game 4 loss in which the freshly minted NBA MVP was just 12-for-32 from the floor.
But given the way Rose has performed this season, Thibodeau believes that criticism is unwarranted.
"You know, when he’s making the plays and he’s scoring, everyone’s saying how great he is," Thibodeau said. "So tonight, he was aggressive. I didn’t have any problem with the way he played. … It’s a make or miss league. If they go down, we’re talking about the great plays and how unselfish he is.”
Instead, plenty of people around the league will question whether Rose simply took too many shots in a game the Bulls believe they should have won.
"It was a tough game tonight," Rose said. "But we'll make no excuses. If they double team in the next game, we'll just have to do a better job of executing. We didn't do as well on our execution with the double teams tonight. I had some turnovers in the fourth quarter that hurt us, and we didn't play as well down the stretch."
As he did on Friday night in Game 3, Rose got to the rim whenever he wanted at times. The difference was that the jumper that repeatedly fell for him went missing again. The open and contested looks that he was draining on Friday didn't go down on Sunday. Despite the struggles, his teammates didn't believe he took an inordinate amount of poor shots.
"I think when Derrick gets it going, he should shoot every time," Bulls guard Kyle Korver said. "But when it's not there, we got to work it as a team. We got to do a better job of getting open so he can see us, and he probably needs to do a better job sometimes of finding us, but it's a team thing. You can't out it on one person. Obviously, when he has it going, he is the best basketball player in the world, and we want him to take every shot that he feels like he's going to make."
Thibodeau feels the same way. He knows that Rose isn't going to lose confidence after one poor shooting night.
"That’s the great thing about him," Thibodeau said. "He’ll be ready to go in the next one. He kept driving the ball. I’m anxious to see the replays. From my perspective, I thought he was getting fouled. Maybe he wasn’t going hard enough.”
Given his track record, and the way he's bounced back after average nights before, the Bulls are confident he will find a way to go even harder in Game 5 Tuesday night.