Derrick Rose heard the chanting of his name at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night when Team USA played the Dominican Republic. He appreciated the love, but there was no chance the Bulls’ guard could play. He sat out that game with knee soreness, but returned to the court on Friday for the USA’s win over Puerto Rico, 112-86, and earned himself a spot on the 12-man roster for the World Cup in Spain.
The love-fest for Rose began during the team introductions prior to tip-off – Rose received the loudest ovation of all players – and continued when he checked into the game with 4:29 remaining in the first quarter. There were oohs and aahs every time he touched the ball, and the 2011 MVP showed enough glimpses of his old self to possibly relieve every aching Chicago fan in the world.
Not looking to be an aggressor offensively in just his second game in nine months, Rose played facilitator the most part of his 14-minutes on the court – driving the lane and finding an open Chandler Parsons for three in the second quarter, and then almost mirroring the play on a pass to Rudy Gay late in the third.
Bulls’ coach, and Team USA assistant, Tom Thibodeau said it was good to see the Derrick of old.
“I thought he showed a lot of patience. He got into a good rhythm. He made a lot of good plays. It was good to see him play like that.”
Rose finished the evening with 6 points (2-for-3), 4 assists and 2 rebounds.
Although not ‘spectacular,’ Rose’ play will leave USA coach Mike Krzyzewski with an important decision to make: Will he start Rose, or play him behind Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving?
“I feel very confident about Derrick. I think Derrick feels very confident,” Krzyzewski said. “I thought he played great tonight. These guys want to play with him. It’s part of getting back is to be around a group of peers. These guys are his peers who want you to be really good. You’re already really good but if James Harden wants ( Steph Curry) to be really good and (Curry) wants Derrick Rose to be really good and Kyrie, it’s a different thing.”
Rose had been rested for three days straight before Thursday’s practice, and his unavailability for Wednesday’s game had raised some concerns about his ability to endure through a heavy schedule in Spain – a stretch that will include five group games in six days.
Rose told reporters at practice on Thursday that he was placing trust in the coaching staff to evaluate the minutes during the tournament.
“It’s not up to me, it’s up to the coaching staff,” Rose said. “How they prepare us, and how they rest us.
“If I can play I’m gonna play. I’m not worried about that.”
Coach Thibodeau agreed that Rose would be judged on a day-to-day basis to ensure his health.
“You’re going day by day, we knew that going in. … It is a progression. He has gotten a lot better. The main thing is shaking the rust off. He will continue to build. If he needs a day off, he will get a day off. He says he feels great.”
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