NEW YORK -- As his teammates celebrated and got dressed around him in a jovial postgame locker room, Derrick Rose patiently explained why the Bulls were so hell-bent on winning Thursday night. He spelled out the Bulls' credo in the process.
After getting crushed on Wednesday night by the Philadelphia 76ers, Rose was determined not to let that happen again on Thursday against the New York Knicks. So he did something about it -- to the tune of 32 points, 15 in the fourth quarter, and 13 assists in a 105-102 win over the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
"We hate losing," Rose explained. "We have winners on our team. Where when we lose, the next game for sure we know that that team is going to get our all that [next] night."
The Knicks found that out the hard way while trying to stay in front of the 23-year-old MVP. Rose sliced and diced the Knicks all night. Most importantly, as Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau pointed out, Rose tried his teammates involved early, then seized control of the game late. With Luol Deng (wrist) and Rip Hamilton (thigh/groin) sidelined, that's the approach the Bulls have to take on most nights. Yes, they got contributions from a lot of different people, but it was Rose who took over the game when the Bulls needed it most in the fourth quarter.
"It says a lot about our team," Thibodeau said of squeaking out the win. "For the most part, this team will play hard every night. The thing to me that was disappointing about the Philly game was just the turnovers. But I love the resiliency of our team. The resolve of our team. The bounce-back ability of the team. We got great leadership from Derrick today and all our guys. The thing about this team is I think we have a team of leaders. It's not any one particular guy, it's a whole group of guys."
Thibodeau can talk about having a team full of leaders, but there is only one guy the Bulls take their cues from on the floor: Rose. They feed off the tone he sets almost every single night, and he's starting to understand that.
"[We] stayed together," Rose said. "We're a team where in those type of situations, that's when we come together as a team and just try to fight through it."
That's the attitude Thibodeau, and Rose, have instilled in the people around them. That's the reason the Bulls are so confident they can win games no matter who goes down.
"I think we have guys that have great will to win," Thibodeau said. "I think they play for each other. So whenever we lose we're disappointed as a group. But we try to learn from every game both when we win and when we lose. I think every game reveals something to you. And you should try to learn and understand why you're winning or why you're losing, and I think this group does that."