It's hard for me to say this, but Derrick Rose is a main reason why the Chicago Bulls are 0-1 to start the season.
Throughout the first three quarters of Chicago's 106-95 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Rose was unstoppable. His reverse layups looked amazing yet effortless.
So where was that when the Bulls fell apart at the end of the game?
In the offseason, Rose said he wanted to be Chicago's leader. He said he improved his three-point shot. He said he's MVP-worthy.
Well, MVPs play their best at the end of games, not choke. Rose finished with 28 points, but he had to take 31 shots in the process, including four ugly treys that were clear misses from the moment they left his hand.
With the game on the line, Rose looked lost, dribbling around and trying so hard to find Kyle Korver that I could have intercepted one of his passes.
Of course, not all the blame can be put on Rose. The Bulls were facing a solid Thunder team that looked very much like the team people expect to contend for the Western Conference title. Rose did not get as much help as he needed from fellow guards Ronnie Brewer and Keith Bogans, who looked every bit like the weakest links they were made out to be.
Before everyone hits the panic button, look at the work done by Joakim Noah. He notched 18 points and 19 rebounds, proving why he is more valuable to this team than Carmelo Anthony, despite what Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson were saying during the telecast.
Taj Gibson played with a ton of energy, and made Bulls fans forget, if only for a little bit, that Carlos Boozer was missing. Gibson scored 14 points and got 11 boards on an efficient 8-for-12 shooting.
Still, none of that mattered, down the stretch the combination of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green torched the Bulls and ran away with the win. Chicago looked lost on offense down once the lane was closed for Rose, and the Thunder big men anticipated the Noah putbacks.
So, what do the Bulls do in a close game? Unlike the Miami Heat, the team that seems to have too many options down the stretch, Chicago looks like it doesn't have any. Rose's jump shot is definitely not up to snuff just yet, and until that happens, he's going to have trouble in endgame scenarios.
Fortunately, the Bulls played a generally poor game, allowing the Thunder a staggering 47 free throw attempts, and were still in contention until the very end.
It's no consolation though. The Cleveland Cavaliers sit atop the division standings after one game, and that's where the Bulls know they should be. The team proved it has the capability of hanging with the best, even on the road and without Boozer. It can probably take out lesser foes in the future.
Yet when the game is on the line, it's up to Rose to win it for his team. It's as simple as that. If the Bulls want to become serious contenders and end the chatter about needing Carmelo, they have to close out games.
Rose wanted the responsibility, and now he's got it. That means he gets the credit for wins, and the blame for losses.