Derrick Rose was dribbling in the second quarter at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, and then in a blink of Eric Bledsoe’s eyes, the Knicks point guard was gone. He blew past his Suns counterpart and took the ball down the lane before jamming it through the net.
Say this for Rose: He may not be the MVP version from his 2010-11 Chicago days, but at 28 with the Knicks, he’s found his old explosive moves to the basket.
Still, he hasn’t found a way to make those drives bring many whistles from the officials.
After Rose was late getting out to Devin Booker on a three-pointer that gave the Suns a two-point lead with 31.7 seconds left in the game, Rose drove for the tie. Bledsoe got a piece of the ball. There was no call.
“I thought there was body contact,” coach Jeff Hornacek said.
The absence of a whistle from the officials on that play had a familiar ring to Rose.
“I’m going to let you all judge that, but that’s been happening my whole career,” said Rose, who had 26 points in the Suns’ 107-105 victory. “They’re probably tired of me asking them what I need to do . . . It just makes me better. It makes me play more efficient. So I’m not worried about it.”
When Rose went AWOL to deal with his “family issue” and missed a Garden game against New Orleans on Jan. 9, he was averaging 17.3 points per game. In the seven games since, he has averaged 20.7, scoring at least 20 four times.
“He’s been getting to the basket,” Hornacek said. “He’s able to break those guys down. He’s one of the quickest guys to be able to do that. Because he’s doing it at such a fast speed, guys come over there and challenge it and hit him in the body, then there’s no call. Maybe they think it’s just so fast, it’s not really a foul.”
In this game, despite numerous drives, he received only one trip to the line and made both of his free throws.
“We’ll just have him continue to drive in there and try to finish on those plays,” Hornacek said.
Rose hit a floater in the lane to put the Knicks ahead 97-94 and sank a pull-up jumper to put them up 99-96.
After the Suns cut it to one, Rose drove the right side and made a reverse layup for a 105-102 lead with 2:06 left. But with the Knicks ahead 105-104, Rose missed a 13-footer with 1:18 to go.
Then came that shot by Booker.
Regrets? Rose had one.
“I probably should’ve hugged him a little bit [closer],” he said.
The Knicks have dropped three of their last four, and the losses have come by a total of six points.
“It makes you better as a player,” Rose said. “It makes you better as a team, figuring out ways to win.”