INDIANAPOLIS — No dramatic “I’m back” statement came Sunday night. No numerical switch signaling a fresh start could be spotted.
Eighteen years ago this month, Michael Jordan, wearing No. 45, made his dramatic comeback from retirement and a baseball experiment here. He scored 19 points with six rebounds and six assists in an overtime loss to the Pacers at the old Market Square Arena.
The best Derrick Rose could do was don a sport coat and slacks and sit on the bench for the first time this season and since tearing his left ACL on April 28. Rose spent several stoppages sharing observations with teammates and jumped to his feet often to celebrate positive plays.
But ultimately, his front-row seat only underlined the Bulls’ 97-92 gritty loss to the Pacers.
The Bulls missed two chances to tie in the waning seconds when Marco Belinelli missed an off-balance 3-pointer and Vladimir Radmanovic failed to come up with the loose ball on a rebound. David West, who led all scorers with 31 points, iced matters with two free throws with 0.5 seconds left.
Coach Tom Thibodeau said Rose hadn’t been on the bench previously because during games, “he’s been working in back. He might not even be out there all the time.”
Trailing by five late, Luol Deng threw down his second flying dunk of the night and later fed Belinelli, who scored 20, with a full-court pass to bring the Bulls within one again. But George Hill sank two free throws and the Bulls committed a shot-clock violation with 52.9 seconds remaining.
West then rebounded his own miss and scored with 32.2 seconds left. Noah missed on a wild drive – you know, the time when Rose would have the ball – and the Bulls were forced to foul Hill, who split free throws with 25.6 seconds remaining for a six-point lead.