After 'dark period,' Rose strong, confident

LAS VEGAS -- The praise for Derrick Rose's game and attitude continued on Wednesday during Day 3 of Team USA's camp.

In the brief portion of practice the media were able to view, Rose made a nice block in transition and showed no fear in driving to the rim on the offensive end. Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau -- an assistant to Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski -- loves to see that type of intensity from his point guard on both ends of the floor, and this characteristic has helped set Rose apart so far this week.

"I love the way he's playing right now," Thibodeau said. "Because he's showing a lot of patience, he's making good decisions, he's finding the rhythm of the game. I think when he plays like that, the game is easy for everybody.

"I think last year he may have been a little bit too anxious. He wanted to come back and do it all in one day. I think this has been … a much better approach. That's who Derrick is. I think he learns from every situation. The adversity, I think, has made him a lot stronger mentally."

Not forcing: Aside from the obvious fact that Rose's body has held up fine throughout the first three days of practice, Bulls personnel seem to be most pleased by Rose's in-game decision-making. They know he was trying to do too much in his first comeback last season, and they see that he has tried to take some pressure off himself this time around.

"I don't see him forcing anything," Bulls general manager Gar Forman said. "I see him kind of letting the game come to him -- and then, when he's got opportunities to make plays, he makes them. He's playing with, it appears to me, great confidence. And when there's an opportunity to make plays, he's making them and he's getting others involved. Defensively, he's been terrific."

Most interesting storyline of the day: The 25-year-old point guard admitted he hit his lowest point at the beginning of last season. He acknowledged he was putting too much pressure on himself and it was affecting his ability to enjoy the game.

"I felt like the first time I came back, I felt like it was damn near like a job instead of just going out there and having fun," he said. "When I came back last fall, I felt like it was a job. I wasn't smiling. I wasn't enjoying the game. I was trying not to mess up, and with me, I usually just go out there and play. Me playing at least is something good. But at the time, it was just too much going on, and I think that was just a dark side for me. Just a dark period of time."

In hindsight, Rose did look like he was pressing early on, but his words are telling. He seems to be enjoying himself much more now and appears to be at ease with his surroundings.

Motivating teammates: Rose has continuously talked this week about how he has been motivated by watching the effort his Bulls teammates continued to put in while Rose was on the shelf. He said he believes this Chicago team is the best one he's been a part of. He also noted Bulls center Joakim Noah has been texting him as more people check in about his comeback.

"I think this is the most talented team I've played on in my NBA career, to tell you the truth," Rose said. "With all the players that I have, with the experience that everybody's bringing to the table, and the way that everybody's working out individually during the offseason and what I've been hearing.

"Just seeing Tony Snell bust his ass in the gym the whole summer, seeing Doug [McDermott] come in and do the same thing, and they end up playing well, it kind of gave me a boost and let me know that hard work pays off.

"So I'm watching them playing summer league a couple of times, seeing them play with a lot of confidence, it just gave me confidence coming into this trial, actually. But I think that we have a deep team and we've got players that have one goal, and we'll do anything to get there."

The last word: Rose, while summing up the past three days:

"It's been excellent, man. It's been excellent. My body's feeling good, and that's the only thing I'm worried about. My mind is clear. I'm eating right, getting all the nutrition that I'm supposed to get, and getting rest, getting off my feet. I don't have family here; my son's not here, so they're not keeping me up all night. So I'm just happy to be here and happy that I have my friends here. They're giving me a lot of confidence and a lot of relief just being here."