BOSTON — Derrick Rose even treats making history casually, shrugging off any superlatives that aren't associated with the final score.
Minutes after he tied Lew Alcindor's 39-year-old NBA playoff record with 36 points in a rookie playoff debut, all Rose wanted to talk about was how the Bulls had stolen Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinals with a 105-103 overtime victory over the defending NBA champion Celtics.
"I was just out there feeling the game," Rose said Saturday at TD Banknorth Garden. "I didn't know I had that many points until Lindsey [Hunter] told me to keep going at them. That's what I was doing. I prepared for a tough game and did all right."
All right? Uh-huh. The master of understatement strikes again.
Rose's dominant performance, which also included 11 assists and 12-for-12 free-throw shooting, made the imagination wonder what his next trick might be. Maybe sneak a few playoff shifts for the Bruins, pitch a few scoreless innings for the Red Sox or run a sub-two-hour race at Monday's Boston Marathon.
Why not take advantage of this city's jam-packed sports weekend in his spare time before Monday night's Game 2 in the best-of-seven series?
"There's nothing he can't do," guard Kirk Hinrich said. "He's unbelievable. I knew he was going to step up. He's that type of player. He was in attack mode the whole game."
Added John Salmons: "Seeing what he's doing is amazing to me. He's so poised as a young player. He put the team on his back. The champions made a run in that third quarter, and he came down calm, collected and hit shot after shot, kept us in the game. We fed off him."
To focus strictly on Rose obviously sells short the stifling team defensive effort that limited the Celtics, who played without Kevin Garnett, to 39.4 percent shooting and helped harass Ray Allen into 1-for-12 shooting for four points.
It also overlooks the monster contributions from Joakim Noah, who had 11 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks, and Tyrus Thomas, who hit three jumpers in overtime and sank the winning 21-footer with 50.5 seconds remaining.
Still, without Rose scoring 23 second-half points, the Bulls wouldn't be celebrating their first playoff victory over the Celtics in 11 tries.
"He has a quiet confidence about him, and he's only going to get better," coach Vinny Del Negro said. "He is athletically as good as you'll find at the position — the quickness, strength. When he has 11 assists, the flow of our team is so much better."
The Bulls showed they meant business as soon as Noah slammed home Rose's alley-oop on the opening possession. They then stared down every challenge Boston threw at them and caught a break when Paul Pierce missed the second of two free throws with 2.6 seconds left in regulation.
With no timeouts, the Bulls would have had to make a desperation shot if Pierce hadn't missed.
Pierce, who had just four first-half points and shot 8-for-21, then had his game-tying shot blocked by Salmons with 3.7 seconds left in overtime. After a 20-second timeout, Allen's baseline jumper just before the buzzer went long.
"That's as good as we've been defensively all year," Hinrich said. "Our sense of urgency was there. Everybody was fired up."
Except, of course, Rose afterward. He kept on ho-humming.
"I had too many turnovers (five)," said Rose, who fouled out with 10.3 seconds left in overtime.
Monday is the 23rd anniversary of Larry Bird comparing Michael Jordan to God after Jordan's NBA playoff record 63-point effort at the old Boston Garden.
Don't bet against Rose doing something spectacular again.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun