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Sunday, January 29, 2012
Derrick Rose takes loss hard

By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com

MIAMI -- Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose took responsibility for his team's 97-93 loss to the Miami Heat on Sunday afternoon. Rose missed two crucial free throws with 22.7 seconds left that would have given the Bulls the lead late in the game.

"This is so unreal right now," an emotional Rose said. "Knowing that I had the chance to change the game, and this time it didn't work out. I know my will to win is still very high, but I guarantee the next time those shots are going down."

Rose, who came into the game shooting 86 percent from the foul line, also missed a running floater with 3.7 seconds left that would have tied the game up.

"It was definitely tough," Rose said. "All I can say is I guess God [does] everything for a reason. I've been in those situations before, knocked them down, but to miss both [free throws] -- I let my team down. The only thing I can do is learn from it."

Rose, who finished the game with 34 points, six rebounds and six assists dressed quietly in his locker stall, still in shock about the ending. But his teammates were quick to point out that he wasn't the reason they lost.

"Derrick's always been someone who's his [own] biggest critic," Bulls center Joakim Noah said. "He takes losses very hard. And he wouldn't be the competitor that he is if he wasn't like that. He knows that we have his back. We love him. And we know we wouldn't be in the position that we're in today if it wasn't for a guy like that. And he knows that. At the end of the day, we have each other's back. But we all feel down right now, it's not just him. Everybody could have done better."

Noah dismissed the idea that the missed free throws might haunt Rose for a while.

"No, not at all," Noah said. "I'll go to war with him any day. Any day on a basketball game. I've never been a competitor like that in my life."

Bulls veteran guard Rip Hamilton echoed Noah's sentiments. He knows Rose is feeling bad, but he doesn't think the free throws will hurt the reigning MVP's confidence.

"The great thing about him is he takes pride in every possession," Hamilton said. "He takes pride in every game. He's not the type of guy who at the end of the game just leaves and says, 'All right, so be it.' You love that from a player. Especially a young player. A lot of guys don't have that. For him to have that is an exciting thing."

None of those words made Rose feel any better immediately after the game. He looked and sounded like a man who was going to have a hard time, at least in the short term, getting over his mistakes at the end of the game.

"It was me," Rose said. "All the plays at the end. If I would have hit them free throws, it never would have gotten that far. I know I can live with it. It's just going to make me a stronger player and it's onto the next game."

Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.