Bulls have little time to get Derrick Rose back into the flow of things
CHICAGO – The sellout crowd on Saturday night could have played “I Spy” during a closer-than-expected-game with Philadelphia at the United Center.
Before them in the final twelve minutes was something they would have seen in 2011.
Maybe even 2012.
They “Spied” a guard with command at the top of the key, acceleration to the paint along with the aerial finesse to finish time and time again.
This is better known as vintage Derrick Rose. The use of that word might seem fitting considering the trio of knee injuries that make the glory days of the guard seem more distant than recent.
But the hope those days could return again during a late push by the Bulls against the Sixers on Saturday night. Rose had a trio of late buckets and a solid cross court pass to Taj Gibson for the game-clinching dunk that completed a 22 point, 8 assist effort in 28 minutes of basketball.
“He played terrific,” said head coach Tom Thibodeau of Rose. “In each quarter I thought he was really good.”
Rose got his chance to play in all of them after his minutes were upped in his third game back from a surgery a torn medial meniscus in his right knee. His minutes were limited to 19 against the Magic in his first game back in a month and a half and then 20 against the Heat the following night.
He scored nine and 12 points, respectively, in those games but showed quite a bit more on Saturday night with some extra minutes that were 21 games in the waiting.
"I'm getting there," said Rose when asked if he feels like he's returning to form. "It's still gonna take time. I'm just happy that I have the teammates that I have. When a guy misses so many games and then comes back and I'm trying to find my way though, they're staying with me. They're sticking with me.
"I'm grateful, I'm excited, I'm filled with joy that I'm back playing."
During the next few weeks Rose will need to work with his teammates to integrate himself back into the lineup smoothly. That shouldn't be a major problem considering the team has gone thorough Rose comebacks a few times the last few seasons. The only problem is the Bulls have just two regular season games remaining before they start the playoffs which makes for a bit of a condensed adjustment period.
"I think it's coming," said Rose. "It's not there yet of course but I'm learning how everybody's playing. I'm getting used to how they play and just getting used to the game, getting used to basketball again."
Joakim Noah, who has been apart of two other teams that assimilated Rose back into the lineup, says chemistry heading in the right direction.
"I still think we have to do better. The bright spot was Derrick's play tonight," said Noah. "I still think we have room for improvement. We have a big game against Brooklyn coming up (Monday) and they are playing very good basketball right now. We just have to stay focused and keep building this team."
Should be Bulls be able to do that with Rose the guard could make the team a contender in a relatively wide open Eastern Conference. Rose was averaging 18.7 points before he went down with an injury and if he's healthy gives the Bulls an edge heading to the postseason.
"Derrick is a player-especially when it comes down to crunch time-he can make big plays, score big buckets, " said Gasol. "I think defensively also. He can stop guards with size. Tonight he got three steals which is real important for us because we are at the bottom of the league as far as steals go and we can get extra possessions.
"He adds a lot."
For the first time in a while, fans saw that first hand on Saturday.