The Chicago Bulls tried their darnedest to let the Milwaukee Bucks back into their first round series, first going down by double digits in the first half, then battling back to lead by ten late in the fourth quarter, only to squander that lead by the final minute. Facing a one-point deficit with a few seconds remaining in regulation, Derrick Rose was fouled on a drive to the basket, after which he missed the first of two free throws. He made the second, the Bucks missed a desperation shot, and the game went to overtime, where the Bulls finally got back and track and were never threatened.

The Bulls now lead the best-of-seven series 3-0 — an insurmountable margin — thanks in large part to the resurgence of Rose. And by resurgence, we don’t mean the fact he’s on the court playing basketball. We mean, 2011 MVP Derrick Rose. The guy that made defenders look silly on electric drives to the basket. A guy who, just two months ago, appeared to be done for yet another season. Two months ago, there loomed the prospect of Rose missing his third consecutive post season. Yet, here he is, turning it up a notch, looking like the complete package he was on that fateful day in April 2012, when he posted a near triple-double against the Philadelphia 76ers.

We’ll see if he can keep it up, especially with a conference semifinals appearance looming against the Cleveland Cavaliers (the Cavs are up 3-0, so it’s going to happen). We all remember what happened the last time rose faced LeBron James in the playoffs, but now that Rose no longer has to carry the Bulls offensively night in and night out, the series could play out much differently than when the Bulls got blitzed in 2011.

[photo: Morry Gash/AP]