WASHINGTON D.C. --- The best way to erase a bad memory is to create new ones, which was what Derrick Rose was determined to do against the Wizards on Monday night in an attempt to forget about missing two free throws with 22.7 seconds left that would've given the Bulls a late lead in Sunday's loss to the Heat.
"Tonight, I'm going to try to go crazy," he said before the game.
He was crazy, all right, as in crazy good. The Bulls point guard had the crowd of 18,357 at the Verizon Center oohing and ahhing with his high-flying act through the paint as the Bulls cruised to a 98-88 victory over the Wizards. Rose piled 35 points and five assists atop his late-game failure against the Heat. It was his third straight game with 30 points or more.
He also made 14 of 15 free throws, including four of four in the fourth quarter.
"I was just playing my game," Rose said. "That's me being aggressive. [Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau] always says play my game and everyone will follow."
Rose went right to work, making six of eight shots in the first quarter. He ended a first half in which the Bulls led 51-40 by nailing an 18 footer and then blocking John Wall's shot as the buzzer sounded. Rose added 15 points in the third quarter, including a 3-pointer with 2:56 left to give the Bulls a 22-point lead.
If Rose is the fastest player in the league from baseline to baseline as Thibodeau claims, Washington's John Wall may be second. Thibodeau called Wall "one of the best young players in the league" but the second-year guard could not compete with Rose's shot-making ability on this night. He scored six of his 20 points in the second half.
"He set the tone," Thibodeau said of Rose. "He's feeling a lot better. When he comes out like that it's his will. He imposes his will on everybody."
He went hard to the basket in the second quarter only to have his shot blocked by JaVale McGee. Rose couldn't believe no foul was called and complained to official Eli Roe while running up the court, drawing his first technical of the season. It has been building. Rose has appeared frustrated with officials several times this season.
"I had to get that one," Rose said. "I didn't mean to get it the way I got it but I felt I had to say something."
Thibodeau told players he was more worried about this game than he was about Sunday's showdown with the Heat. His players responded.
Kyle Korver nailed five 3-pointers and finished with 17. Carlos Boozer added 18.
"You're only going to let Derrick attack the basket so many times before you make a change and the defense beings to collapse," Korver said when asked to explain his long-range success.
The Wizards clawed back to within eight late in the fourth with a trapping defense the Bulls countered by getting the ball to center Joakim Noah in the middle of the floor. Noah finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds for his fifth straight double-double. He also had seven assists.
After the game, he was regretfully asked if he fantasized about being a point guard.
"I usually think of women when I fanaticize," he said, before adding: "I don't fantasize about being a point guard."