Bulls fans were certainly happy to see Derrick Rose back on the floor Saturday after he skipped the previous game against Toronto because of a sore right hamstring.
Maybe not as happy when he checked back in with 8:13 left in the game and the Bulls rolling along with a 20-point lead against Indiana. Rose tore his ACL in the waning minutes of a game that already was decided.
He played the final 8:13 of Saturday's 110-94 victory without incident, finishing with 31 minutes played.
"(I was) a little surprised, but I wanted the minutes," Rose said after the game. "It was getting me my rhythm, being out there with Kirk (Hinrich), just playing. I think we moved the ball well this game."
Coach Tom Thibodeau was asked why Rose played late.
"Because we needed him," he said. "We talked about it before the game and talked about it at halftime. We wanted to keep the number around 30 (minutes). He was feeling good and he had a pretty good rhythm, so …"
Before the game, Indiana coach Frank Vogel talked about the uncertainty of Rose's status.
"We expected him to play," Vogel said. "We know they're good without him. Obviously, they're better with him. I think they're just more balanced (without Rose).
"You could be hit from a variety of different directions. They still have good balance when he's in there. But all eyes have got to be on Derrick Rose when he's in the game."
Rating the Pacers:
Whether or not this is a rivalry, Indiana has become one of the teams to beat in the Eastern Conference. Before Saturday's contest, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau gave his assessment of the Pacers' success.
"Their bigs are real tough inside, but Paul George is a superstar. He puts a lot of pressure on you," Thibodeau said. "They're playing great defense. They played great defense last year. I think each year they've gotten better and better and made a strong commitment to it. They challenge shots. They cover for each other. If there's a mistake that's made, (Roy) Hibbert's always waiting. It makes it tough."
Fast start a small feat:
By starting the season 9-0, the Pacers tied their NBA-best franchise winning streak. They won 11 straight as an ABA team in 1973.
Before the game, Indiana coach Frank Vogel talked about taking the fast start in stride.
"Our guys are enjoying it, but they're staying grounded, remaining levelheaded," he said. "It's very early in the season. We haven't accomplished anything, nor have we come close to really accomplishing anything. We're off to a good start, that's all it is."
Carlos Boozer and Indiana's Chris Copeland were ejected with 21.9 seconds left after a minor skirmish. … Kirk Hinrich received a technical foul in the first half. … The Pacers had not allowed more than 50 points in a half this season until the Bulls scored 60 in Saturday's first half.