MIAMI ---Derrick Rose made jump shots with Miami Heat players draped all over him. He made runners and scoop shots. He shot right-handed and left-handed. He was double-and-even-triple teamed and he was still able to finish at the rim. He made all 12 of his free throws when he stepped to the line with a chance to give him team its first lead over the Heat with 22.7 seconds left.
He'll may never forgive himself for missing them both as the Heat handed the Bulls a deflating 97-93 defeat at AmericanAirlines Arena on Sunday.
"Me missing those free throws. Both? Come on," he said in the locker room afterwards, still unable to fathom what had happened more than 20 minutes before. "The only thing I can think of is God does things for a reason. He's telling me to work on my free throws more. I can do that. I know it's going to make me a stronger player."
Chances are, Rose is in a gym as you read this shooting free throws, even if he was perfect in 29 fourth-quarter attempts this season before Sunday. He was more than disappointed after scoring 34 points to help his team rally from behind again and again only to miss out on an opportunity to steal a win at the end. He was shattered beyond belief.
As if missing the free throws wasn't bad enough, he also left a potential game-tying 14-foot-runner short with 3.7 seconds left.
"Derrick has always been his biggest critic," center Joakim Noah said. "He takes losses very hard. He wouldn't be the competitor he is if he wasn't like that. He knows we have his back. We love him. We wouldn't be in the position we're in today if not for a guy like that. He knows that. At the end of the day we have each other's back but we all feel down right now. It's not just him. We all could've done better."
The first installment of what may be the NBA's best rivalry came down to the frantic final seconds and two strange plays. There was an inadvertent whistle that led the Heat regaining possession while leading by two with 16.8 seconds left. There was another scramble for a lose ball that Rose picked up before calling a timeout with 9.9 seconds left. After Rose missed two free throws so did LeBron James, who led the Heat with 35 points.
"This is so unreal right now," Rose said. "I had a chance to change the game and this time it didn't work out. I know my will to win is still very strong. I guarantee next time the shots are going down."
Nobody besides Rose was able to score consistently as Richard Hamilton and Joakim Noah had 11 each while Carlos Boozer and Ronnie Brewer each added 10. Noah also had 11 rebounds while Boozer had nine.
"The great thing about him is he takes pride in every possession, he takes pride in every game," Hamilton said of Rose. "He's not the type of guys who at the end of the game loses and says so be it. You love that from a player, especially a young player. A lot of guys don't have that. For him to have that is an exciting thing."