Every time we see Derrick Rose sweep that wicked crossover past a defender, explode for several athletic layups in a quarter or even lead the Bulls to victory with a clutch fourth quarter, there's a tendency to immediately start comparing him to the "old" Rose. You know, that guy who became the youngest MVP in NBA history and who convinced us he'd dominate the league for the next dozen years.
Let's not do that. Even if Rose suddenly found that old magic, he can't turn back the clock and replay those lost seasons -- and there's no point pretending he can. It's not fair to him that Thursday's storyline was his game against Russell Westbrook, a matchup that hadn't happened since 2010, because he's no longer that player. But potential captures our imagination, sometimes more than any known commodity, and so of course that was all we talked about.
So, when Rose led Chicago with 29 points and seven assists to a 104-98 win against Oklahoma City -- who have now lost three in a row -- let's just appreciate that at face value, not within the context of Rose's seemingly inevitable superstardom that was thrust upon him prior to the horrific knee injuries. On Thursday, Rose truly was excellent. He started slow, missing six of his first seven shots, but turned it around for a 12-of-25 shooting night. He went on a personal 10-point run, turning a two-point lead with three minutes to play into a six-point one with 1:07 left. The final jump was classic Derrick, just toying with a big man who had tragically switched onto him before pounding the ball once, hopping back and burying the dagger.
Coming from three-straight outings of scoring in the single digits, this was the sort of game Rose needed. Chicago needed it too, fresh off of a 25-point blowout on the hands on a suddenly surging Charlotte. Rose showed he can still be the guy who takes the reins for the Bulls -- maybe not every night, but certainly a few times a season when they really need him to.
And in that unfair Rose vs. Westbrook storyline, Rose left with the upper hand. It won't be that way for the season in its entirety, of course -- Westbrook's gunning for MVP candidacy while Rose just needs nightly consistency. But Rose winning out feels like a moral victory we needed, a callback of that never-quite-realized potential but also a reminder that we're still not done getting "Derrick Rose moments" just yet.
3 things we learned
Al Jefferson partied in Dallas like it was 2008. It's funny what a high-quality NBA big man scorer can do when guarded by Dirk Nowitzki, Zaza Pachulia and Dwight Powell. It's basically comedy. Jefferson never had a worry the entire night and finished with 31 points on 15-of-18 shooting, plus nine rebounds, too. After a less than stellar start, suddenly Charlotte is turning it around, too. Their win on the Mavericks' home court is their second start by double figures after lighting up the Chicago Bulls in a 130-105 win on Tuesday.
The Memphis Grizzlies might actually be in trouble this time. Overreactions are rife during the opening weeks of the NBA. We can't help it. Judging teams on how they play is what we do, even if there's plenty of time for them to overcome poor starts or bad experiments.
With that said, the Memphis Grizzlies haven't looked so hot to open the year. They were blown out by Portland to fall to 3-3 on Thursday and that was with a decent showing on offense, too, shooting 48 percent from the floor and committing just eight turnovers. The defense, their calling card for years, just hasn't been up to standard. Their other two losses -- to be fair, against the godly Warriors and killer Cavs -- were by a combined 80 points. Maybe it's just early season kinks that will be worked out over time, but thus far, Memphis is casting some bad vibes.
Chandler Parsons' experiment didn't exactly work like he planned. After Tuesday's loss, Parsons -- on a strict 15-minute restriction as he returns from knee surgery last May -- said he'd rather play just the second half instead of just the first half, like he had in the first two games since his return. Rather surprisingly, Rick Carlisle said "yes" to his suggestion. Well, it didn't work. Parsons scored two points playing 14 minutes, shooting 1-of-5 and finishing minus-16 for the evening as the Mavericks got run off the court in the third quarter, losing it 24-14. "It's almost like the basketball gods said, 'here you go for that dumbass idea,'" Parsons said after the game. Guess it's back to the drawing board now.
Play of the night
The shot by itself is impressive. The quick hands to strip the ball and then the awareness to immediately spin and shoot? Hot damn, D-Wade.
3 fun things
Awwwwwwwwwww Damian Lillard met his biggest fan who happens to be 92 years old
DERRICK ROSE WEARING HIS SON'S FACE wait that sounds weird it's just on a T-shirt don't worry
LeBron rips his sleeves. Everyone else follows suit.
Hassan Whiteside made a "slide into the DMs" joke about HIS OWN HIGHLIGHTS.