If last night proved anything about Derrick Rose, it’s that he’s not afraid to trade paint with anybody — even if you’re a 325-pound future Hall of Famer/hired wrecking ball like Shaquille O’Neal. Rose scored 36 points — 3 shy of the season-high 39 he threw at Detroit earlier in the year — and got 15 of them at the line, victimizing the Celtics’ big men. Jermaine and Shaquille O’Neal combined for nine fouls in 32 minutes.
The Celtics have had young stars get to the stripe on them before — after Kevin Durant went 15 for 15 from the line last season, Kevin Garnett, appalled, called Durant “Michael [expletive] Jordan — but Rose got to the line 19 times last night in the Bulls’ 90-79 win. Only two other players — LeBron James (twice) and Allen Iverson — have taken more free throw attempts in the Big Three Era.
The scary part: Rose says he’s still learning. He’s only averaging 5.8 free throws a night (the most of his career but just 20th in the league), so you have to take his word for it.
But Derrick Rose was the show-stopper. He scored 36 points by earning a career-high 19 trips to the foul line. He also made a career-best 15. (His previous highs were 13 and 10.)
“That’s a good sign,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He was in attack mode from the start of the game. When he drives it that hard, he is going to get those calls.”
After repeatedly crashing into Davis and Shaquille O’Neal, Rose predicted he would be sore Sunday. But the Bulls will get a day off to regenerate.
“I’m still learning how to get fouled,” Rose said. “Going up and hitting Shaq every time, it hurts, definitely. It’s like running into a brick wall.”