Derrick Rose, welcome to the NBA.
In just the second regular season game of his career, Rose had to run the floor in the Garden against the defending world champion Boston Celtics. It was a tall order for the rookie point guard and he was up for the challenge.
Rose made his presence known by driving on Kendrick Perkins early in the first quarter and drawing the foul. Perkins has more than seven inches and 90 pounds on Rose and still the rook attacked the hoop as if he had a clear lane.
‘I’m kind of used to it now,’ Rose, 20, said after the game. ‘I’m the type of guard where I’m kind of athletic, so when I go to the hole I’m used to getting body contact and I’m used to finishing on people. He’s big but I’m practicing those shots all the time.’
Battling the bigs wasn’t Rose’s only concern. He also had to defend the fiesty Rajon Rondo.
‘Rondo was good,’ he said. ‘He knows his role on the team. He’s a good, improving point guard. He’s just going to make you better.’
Rose was one of the few highlights in the Bulls 96-80 loss. He tied Kevin Garnett for most points with 18 and scored all of his field goals in the paint. This was a completely different player than the one who raised red flags during an injury-ridden summer league showing.
‘I didn’t want to lose,’ Rose said of his improved performance. ‘I was steady driving, trying to get people open, shooting. I just know now that I can’t waste my time when we get out there. The Celtics, they mean business when they get out there. They try to get the game over with quick and we’ve just got to learn that and we’ll be fine.’
Just one game against the Celtics was all it took for a crash course in NBA competition.
‘It’s just going to help me,’ Rose said. ‘I’m happy that I had the opportunity to have this game early in the season so that later on in the season I can get better.’
Expect him to do just that.