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updated: 10/5/2013 10:59 PM

Rose looks strong in return to Bulls

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  • Bulls guard Derrick Rose, playing in his first game since April 28, 2013, cuts between Pacers guard George Hill, right, and power forward David West during Saturday night's preseason action.

      Bulls guard Derrick Rose, playing in his first game since April 28, 2013, cuts between Pacers guard George Hill, right, and power forward David West during Saturday night's preseason action.
    Associated Press

 
 

INDIANAPOLIS -- Derrick Rose didn't want it to end.

In fact, when he finally walked off the floor for good in the third quarter, he vented some anger toward coach Tom Thibodeau.

"He told me he was going to give me eight minutes," Rose said with a laugh. "He only gave me like five. So I was mad about the other three minutes."

Even without those missing three minutes, Rose's return to NBA basketball Saturday night was a success. He made some mistakes and missed all his jump shots, but the motor was back.

On consecutive possessions in the second quarter, Rose grabbed an outlet pass, sped downcourt and flew past some Indiana Pacers big men for fastbreak baskets.

"That's his game -- the speed, the quickness, but the power to go along with it," Thibodeau said. "That's what makes him so special and unique. There's no one like him."

The final stat line was 13 points for Rose in just more than 20 minutes of action. He hit 5 of 12 shots from the field, 3 of 5 free throws, with 3 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 steal and 4 turnovers. The Bulls won their preseason opener 82-76 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

This was Rose's first game action since April 28, 2012, when he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee late in a first-round playoff contest at the United Center.

Maybe the most interesting part of Rose's comeback game was his complete lack of fear. When he saw 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert or veteran power forward David West in his way, Rose didn't dribble backward. He attacked.

His first bucket of the game started with a shot over Hibbert. It missed, but Rose grabbed the rebound on the opposite side of the hoop and quickly followed it in.

His first hard hit was a collision with Hibbert that sent Rose falling backward onto the floor. While the home fans screamed for one of the Pacers' patented "principle of verticality" rulings, Rose went to the line and hit the free throws.

"I knew I was going to play the same way," Rose said. "Play aggressive, make them stop me, but get out in the open floor like I've been doing in practice."

Rose said the first big hit he took was against free-agent center Dexter Pittman early in training camp. Both players hit the floor hard, and Rose walked away with no damage.

"That's probably the first time I realized I was going to be good," Rose said. "They hit me in practice. My teammates, of course, everybody's trying to win, it's competitive.

"If I go to the hole, they're going to foul me the same way. I'm used to getting hit now. Falling, slipping, all that stuff I got out of the way in training camp."

Heading into this game, Rose said his biggest concern was his conditioning. He seemed to pass that test just fine.

"I was able to push the ball the way that I wanted to, put pressure on the defense," he said. "It kind of surprised me. I didn't get winded the whole team I was out there.

"I'm going to continue to push the ball the same way and hope that they run with me. If they push the ball, I'm filling the lane as fast as I can."

Thibodeau and the other Bulls talked about learning to play at a faster pace after going a full season with Rose on the sideline. The Bulls were credited with 20 fastbreak points Saturday.

"Thibs put that speedy unit in and we were really getting up and down the court pretty fast," Taj Gibson said. "Those things I was happy to see. Last year we were kind of slow getting up and down the court, but since Derrick is back, we're getting out on the break."

Gibson might have been the standout performer in this game. He finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds, while hitting 9 of 12 shots. Luol Deng added 15 points but hit just 4 of 16 shots.

After Rose left the floor in the third quarter, Indiana went on a 14-0 run. But even though Pacers coach Frank Vogel used his starters well into the fourth quarter, the Bulls rallied to win.

Marquis Teague and rookie Erik Murphy hit key 3-pointers down the stretch.

•Follow Mike's Bulls reports on Twitter @McGrawDHBulls and check out his All Bull blog at dailyherald.com.

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