Derrick Rose broke for the corner, got the pass from Joakim Noah on a play they’d worked on in practice and let fly with a high arching jumper. The ball caught the rim, came back and fell through.
Rose’s shot with 19.4 seconds to play Tuesday night put the Chicago Bulls ahead and was part of a closing 8-0 they needed beat the New Orleans Hornets 99-95.
It was Rose to the rescue for the Bulls in a sluggish first game back from the All-Star break. He had 32 points, six in the finishing run that came after the Hornets had scored 13 straight to take a four-point lead.
”I take crazy shots like that in practice all the time, they just give me confidence to take those shots where they are looking for me,” Rose said. ”We work on that in the end of practice. I stepped back and tried to shoot the ball up as high as I could.”
After losing Chris Paul and withstanding injuries to several key players, the Hornets, who are only 8-26, were on the verge of pulling off one of their biggest wins. They’d gone into New York before the break and cooled off Jeremy Lin and the Knicks and now were threatening to beat a team that had beaten them 90-67 three weeks ago in New Orleans.
”We should have won that game,” New Orleans coach Monty Williams said. ”You’ve got to close games like that out.”
Noah had 15 points and 16 rebounds for the Bulls and Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng added 14 points apiece.
Chris Kaman had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Hornets and Trevor Ariza scored 16 points.
The Hornets stunned the Bulls with the 13-0 run that turned a nine-point deficit into a four-point lead with 1:26 left. But then Rose took over.
”We definitely held it together. Other teams I guess would have folded,” Rose said. ”We played toward the end I think the best defense we played throughout the whole game. We rebounded the ball, made great plays on the ball. . . . We gave ourselves a chance.”
Rose hit two free throws and, after a New Orleans turnover, his miss was tapped in by Noah to tie the score at 95 with 52 seconds left.
After a miss by Gustavo Ayon, the Bulls rebounded, called a timeout with 25.7 seconds to go. And when they came back out, Rose’s jumper from the right baseline side finally settled into the basket.
”Derrick Rose came back and hit a tough shot,” Ariza said. ”We’re a team that never gives us. We’re going to play hard all the way through. But late turnovers cost us. The game we could have had for sure.”
Rose relishes taking the game-turning shots.
”I always think about my legacy here, taking those shots,” he said. ”I want to be where I want to be at the end of my career.”
After Jarrett Jack couldn’t connect for the Hornets, Rose hit two from the line with 10.6 second left for a 99-95 lead. Rose was fouled again with four seconds left and missed both but by then it was too late for the Hornets.
Kyle Korver hit a 3 after missing his first four attempts and Rose scored on a left-handed layup to give Chicago a 91-82 lead with a little more than 5 minutes to go.
But Marco Belinelli and Jack scored for New Orleans, chopping Chicago’s lead to 91-86 with just under 4 minutes left. Ariza then hit a 3, Ayon had two baskets and Belinelli a driving basket in the unlikely spurt that put the Hornets up 95-91.
Down three at the half, the Bulls came out in the third quarter and built a seven-point lead. Rose, who had 21 of his points in the second half, started it with a driving basket and Deng had seven points, including a 3-pointer. Boozer’s follow made it 66-59 halfway through the period.
New Orleans kept scrapping, especially Kaman, and his follow-up hoop highlighted a 10-2 spurt that put New Orleans back on top by one
Ronnie Brewer then scored twice and Rose had a twisting left-landed layup as the Bulls regained the lead 76-70 after three quarters.
Guard Richard Hamilton returned to the Bulls lineup and appeared in just his 12th game this season. Bothered by a sore thigh he hadn’t played since Jan. 29. He scored the game’s first basket and converted a three-point play but played only eight minutes in the first half. He finished with five points and five assists in 16 minutes and 51 seconds.
NOTES: Injury update: Hornets’ F Carl Landry (left knee sprain) and C Jason Smith (concussion) are still a few days away from returning, Williams said.