About Last Night: Rose strikes again
Also: Myles Turner protects the rim in style and Pat Beverley pulls off rare night
Dan McCarney, NBA.com
Jan 20, 2019 11:58 PM ET
Not unlike a pro wrestling tag team, Karl-Anthony Towns and Derrick Rose took turns savaging the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.
Towns shouldered the load for the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first half, pouring in 28 points on 14 shots.
But as the budding young star cooled off in the second, scoring just two points while misfiring on 7 of 8 shots, Rose was more than ready to pick up the slack.
Continuing his improbable comeback season, the revitalized former Kia MVP erupted for 29 of his 31 points over the final 24 minutes, capped by his clutch jumper with 0.6 seconds remaining to give the Timberwolves a 116-114 victory.
With the nation’s attention fixed firmly on the NFL’s conference championship games, the shot didn’t get nearly as much attention as some of his previous heroics, including his 50-spot against the Utah Jazz on Oct. 31.
But it was more indication, after a recent ankle sprain cost him eight games, that Rose isn’t ready to let his remarkable ride end just yet.
Sunday marked the 19th time in 36 games he’s scored 20 points or more this season, a consistent source of production for a team in need of any kind of steadiness it can get during what has been an exceptionally turbulent season.
And while his status as a high-flying superstar has long since expired, the instinct to take charge remains fully intact. Rather than run a pick-and-roll with Towns on the final play, as drawn up by interim head coach Ryan Saunders, Rose saw a matchup with Suns rookie Mikal Bridges and chose to attack.
“It was a rook sticking me, right?” he said, as reported by The Athletic. “A rookie. C’mon, I gotta go at him in that situation.”
In the old days, Rose almost certainly would have looked to attack the rim. But now, with injuries having reduced his athletic ability to nil, he instead went to the step-back jumper.
Another moment to remember in what has already been an unforgettable season.
“Like I always say, I believe in myself, and I work on this all the time,” Rose said. “I didn’t want to force anything.”
Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen has made quite the name for himself as a shot blocker of highlight-reel caliber. But Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner proved he knows how to protect the rim in impressive fashion as well. Witness his absolute suffocation of Marvin Williams’ ill-advised dunk attempt:
Quite the night for Pat Beverley:
Guess LA Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell is a big tennis fan:
Spurs guard Patty Mills got an early start on MLK Day with his heartfelt pregame address:
With 30 seconds left, Rose missed the first of two free throws and was kicking himself for failing to give his team the lead.
“I kept saying, ‘You’re going to get another shot,” Taj Gibson said he told his long-time teammate. Twenty-nine seconds later, Rose proved Gibson prophetic.
Rose hit an 18-footer with 0.9 seconds left to give the Wolves a 116-114 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night. He carried his team by scoring 29 of his 31 points in the second half to help Minnesota overcome an 11-point deficit.
Gibson dunked to pull Minnesota within one with less than a minute to play. Karl-Anthony Towns intercepted a bad pass from Booker, and Rose hit the second of two foul shots to tie it at 114 with 30.5 remaining.
After giving Rose his pep talk, Gibson grabbed the loose ball after Devin Booker lost it on Phoenix’s next possession. With the shot clock off and the crowd on its feet, Rose calmly dribbled down the clock against Mikal Bridges before pulling up and hitting the final shot.
“I missed a lot. it was all up to my teammates and the coaches for giving me that confidence, putting the ball in my hands and just believing in me,” Rose said.
It was a good confidence boost for both the oft-injured guard, and a team that had lost two of its last three home games by a combined seven points.
“He needed that shot, you know what I’m saying?” Gibson said. “He’s been putting in so much work in, we’ve been in that situation a couple times this year and it didn’t go his way.”
Rose picked up the slack for Towns, who had 30 points but only two after halftime. He went 13 of 13 from the free-throw line in the half, but struggled against Phoenix’s double-teams in the second.
“We just stepped it up in the second half,” said Dragan Bender, the main man charged with defending Towns. “We came out, tried to double him, try to get the ball out of his hands and make the other players make plays.”
With Towns struggling against double-teams in the second half, Rose kept the Wolves in the game on 11-for-18 shooting in the half.