The home court and a bout with mortality was all the Derrick Rose Clutch Bot needed to be activated again. Rose fought off an ankle injury to do exactly what his Bulls team needed to beat the Pacers, scoring 25 points and mostly being pretty efficient, though he did shoot a lot of threes.
The most important stretch came midway through the third quarter, when the Pacers drew to within five points. Rose responded with three three-pointers, a spectacular block on Roy Hibbert and a nice pass to Keith Bogans for another three. Suddenly, the lead was double digits again, and it stayed that way. All this caused Michael Wilbon to exclaim the following:
That stretch by Rose, the 3 3s, the block on 7-footer Roy Hibbert, the whip pass to Bogans for 3...its why metrics don't explain his value.
I responded with some snark, pointing out that all of those things are technically metrics. I responded this way mostly because I didn't want the Rose MVP debate to reopen, because it was stupid and a lot of wasted energy. In reality, I get what Wilbon is saying. It's the timing of this surge, when the Pacers were starting to rally, that isn't captured simply by these traditional numbers. (It is captured by plus/minus and all the advanced spin-offs of that stat, but let's ignore that for now).
Here's my issue. Sure, Rose doing that at that time breaks the backs of the opponent and provides his team confidence, in such a way where we have to actually watch to see its effect. But let's not pretend Rose is the only player capable of these kind of two-minute surges. Hell, on the same night this all happened, Kobe Bryant had his own two-minute surge, except he did it against a better team in a higher-pressure spot with arguably a more serious injury. Earlier this playoffs, Chris Paul had his surge, except it was on the road against a much better team with much worse teammates. To pretend those moments cement Rose as MVP is to ignore the reality that most stars are capable of doing that too.
Nevertheless, the Derrick Rose Clutch Bot rolls on. Let's hope that we can retire the MVP references once he actually wins the MVP.