“That kid [Rose]. I don’t know what happens to him in the fourth quarter. He’s already good and then in the fourth quarter he morphs into Superman or something. It’s amazing to watch him. He could be struggling and all of a sudden, one game he made four [3-pointers] out of nowhere. He’s a tough, tough kid. They are a great group. They’re fun to watch.’’
There is statistical truth to that. Derrick Rose ups his game in the fourth quarter and as a result the Bulls are the best fourth-quarter team in basketball. They outscore their opponents by an average of 6.2 points in the fourth quarter. The next best team is the Utah Jazz, at 4.9 points.
Last year, Rose was the second-best clutch-time scorer in the NBA, defining "clutch time" as five minutes or less in the game and the score within five. This year those numbers are down a bit, but that has a lot to do with him making sure there is no "clutch time."
In fact, the Bulls have only had seven clutch-time minutes this season.
The reason is Rose has been strapping his team on his back earlier this year and making sure there is no clutch time. Eight of the Bulls' 11 wins have been by at least double-digits and another was by nine points. That's the most double-digit wins in the NBA.
Let there be no mistake about it. This has everything to do with Derrick Rose hitting the phone booth between the third and fourth quarters. His fourth-quarter play is on another level.
First, look at his fourth-quarter numbers compared to his overall numbers, prorated to per 36 minutes.
And it's not just his traditional numbers that are better either. His advanced stats are also better.
|Split||Off Rtg||Def Rtg||Net Rtg||Reb%||Ast %||TO Ratio||Usg %|
What's important to notice here is that Rose is not boosting his numbers by simply doing more. His numbers are better by playing better. His usage percentage is only five percent. It's not just that he's "taking over the game" by pushing his teammates out of it.
In fact, his assist percentage is up more than his usage percentage.
Compare that with Carmelo Anthony who is leading the NBA with 41.1 points per 36 minutes in the fourth quarter, but whose team is actually down in offensive rating. Anthony's usage percentage in the fourth is 50 percent. His assists percentage falls from 28.0 to 15.0.
Anthony is scoring 11.5 more points than Rose, but he's taking 8.2 more shots to do so.
As a result, the Knicks' offensive rating drops from 100.0 to 94.7 in the fourth. Anthony might be posting up better scoring numbers, but the Knicks are a worse offensive team overall. I'm not going to get into whether Anthony is doing more because his team is doing less or his team is doing less because he is doing more, but there's a clear difference between he and Rose.
Rose plays better and makes his teammates better in the fourth. Anthony does not.
Rose's Bulls see a climb in their offensive ratting of 21.2 points because Rose isn't just scoring more. He's scoring more efficiently and doing an even better job of creating shots for his teammates and making them better in the process.
He's not just doing it from the offensive end. Opposing teams are just scoring 87.8 points per 100 possessions on the Bulls in the fourth quarter while Rose is on the court. That has a lot to do with Rose stepping things up on the defensive end as well.
The change in net rating is phenomenal. The Bulls are already outscoring their opponents by 10 points per 100 possessions with Rose on the court.
They're outscoring them by almost 40 per 100 possessions in the fourth.
Anthony's net rating in the fourth quarter is actually minus-7.0. Kobe Bryant's is 7.0. Kevin Durant is minus-4.9. Rose's scoring, true shooting percentage and total stat numbers are also better than Durant's or Bryant's in the fourth quarter.
Ditto LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Ditto Dirk Nowitzki.
I looked at all the usual suspects and the only player I could find with a better fourth-quarter scoring average than Rose was Anthony, whom I've discussed earlier. Anthony might score more, but Rose does literally everything else better and is more efficient.
If you look at the overall numbers, Rose is not just putting up the best fourth-quarter numbers of any player, he's blowing the competition out of the water. There's a reason the Bulls lead the NBA in fourth-quarter margin. There's a reason they haven't lost a game where they led in the fourth quarter this year.
That reason is, "Derrick Rose happens," to paraphrase Al Horford.
Derrick Rose is emerging as the best fourth-quarter player in basketball, and it might be that the only defense for opposing teams is to hide the phone booth.