In a lot of ways, these are the toughest days of the preseason.
With six games under their belt, the Bulls probably are ready for the real season to start, and games like Monday night's against Milwaukee can feel like a chore.
Not to Derrick Rose. After the Bulls improved to 6-0 in the preseason by pounding the Bucks 105-84 at the United Center, he asked for more.
"(That's true) probably for my teammates, because they've been playing a little bit longer than me," Rose said. "But for me, I'm loving every moment of it. Every second, I'm loving. I'm back playing the sport I love playing. For me, it feels like a new start."
Rose continued his impressive return from a full season recovering from knee surgery. He scored 24 points in 28 minutes, with 4 assists and 3 rebounds.
In the last three games Rose has scored 78 points in 81 minutes. During that span, he has shot 61.8 percent from the field and 7-for-14 from 3-point land. That is some heavy production, preseason or not.
"I don't think I'm getting enough (time)," Rose said. "I wanted to go back in the game tonight, but Thibs didn't call my name. They're been managing my minutes great, so I can't complain."
All five Bulls starters scored in double figures. Carlos Boozer added 16 points, Luol Deng 15, Mike Dunleavy 12 and Taj Gibson 10.
The Bulls played without Joakim Noah (groin strain), Jimmy Butler (left knee bruise) and Kirk Hinrich (concussion). Nazr Mohammed was listed as the starting center before game time, but when Milwaukee went with a small lineup, Gibson started instead.
The Bulls jumped to a quick 20-4 lead, and the game progressed in blowout mode the rest of the way. The Bucks (0-5) played without O.J. Mayo (personal reasons) and Ersan Ilyasova (sprained ankle).
But the story of this preseason, as expected, has been Rose. He's a blur when he attacks the basket and looks better than ever on his outside jumper.
"I think he's got a great balance to his game right now," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "If you back up on him, he doesn't hesitate to pull up. You come up on him, he'll go (forward). He's pushing the ball. He's in an attack mode right from the start."
Another interesting statistic is Rose has gone 29-for-34 at the foul line during the past three games. Averaging double-digit free-throw attempts probably won't continue in the regular season, but it shows how aggressive Rose has been.
"I think I'm finding contact a little bit more," he said. "I'm getting comfortable with it. My previous years I was kind of shying away from it. Now I think I'm getting used to being hit."
Thibodeau seems intent on not letting the Bulls gain too much confidence from an undefeated preseason. Rose, meanwhile, downplays his own performance without any prodding.
"I still have a long way to go. I've got to get in a groove," he said. "I think I had like 4 turnovers tonight, so just get them down and make better decisions.
"I still didn't shoot my floater yet. I think I've probably got one floater. Little things I normally do, I've just got to get used to playing again to get the feel for the game."