Tom Thibodeau is a rookie head coach and he's going to make mistakes - and make no mistake, his decision not to bring Derrick Rose back down the stretch Thursday night against the New York Knicks was a mistake.
After the Bulls' bench players had cut a 19-point deficit to nine points with just under five minutes left, the Knicks called timeout and gave Thibodeau a perfect opportunity to bring back Rose to keep the run going. But the Bulls' best player never got off the bench.
"I thought that group was playing pretty well and we had gone with the starters a little longer than usual to start the second half," Thibodeau said in explaining his decision. "The second unit fought hard to close it and I wanted to see what they could get out of it. They were closing a lot harder to the three-point line.
"I thought about it, but I thought the group that was out there was covering the line pretty well."
The Bulls had many problems against the Knicks, but Rose wasn't one of them. He was having a great offensive game with 24 points and a career-high 14 assists before Thibodeau pulled the plug on his starters with about nine minutes to go after New York stretched its lead to 18.
I would have gone to the bench then as well. But after the reserves made the improbable run to cut the lead to nine, I definitely would have gone back to Rose - and probably Joakim Noah - to see if he could keep the momentum going and possibly steal a game.
The Bulls players, including Rose, did the prudent thing after the game and didn't question the decision of their coach.
But they were in the minority in that regard. Even the United Center crowd started chanting, "We want Rose... We want Rose... " with about three minutes to play.