For starters, it's Rose at point guard


Oct 29

By Adam Fluck

Welcome back, Derrick Rose. After being sidelined for over three weeks and missing seven of the team’s eight exhibition games, the second-year point guard returned to practice full time this week and will be in the starting lineup when the Bulls open the regular season at the United Center.

“I can’t wait,” Rose said on Wednesday.  “I’ve been waiting to play for a long time; now I get the chance. I’m excited.”

Rose admitted he’s not fully recovered and labeled himself 80 percent. His conditioning isn’t where he would like it to be either.

“I’m going to get tired, I’ll tell you right now,” he said an hour before tip-off on Thursday. “But I’ll just have to suck it up and go out there and play. Me being tired is just a part of the game.”

He hopes to back to full strength by the end of the month, and part of that process will be regaining his explosiveness. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll get to ease back into things.

Rose showed he could handle back-to-back days of practice this week, but now comes the test of back-to-back games. Just as the Bulls have been dealt a tough hand with the early portion of the schedule, the matchups won’t exactly bring Rose along gradually.

After facing Tony Parker and the Spurs in the opener (7 p.m. | TNT | WLS 890 AM), he will go head to head with Rajon Rondo in Boston on Friday (7 p.m. | WGN, ESPN | ESPN 1000). But Rose is just fine with that.

“It’s the NBA,” he said. “They don’t care how long you’ve been out or if you are injured. They are going to go out there and play their game.”

Though Rose missed the vast majority of the preseason, he kept a close eye on practice sessions while riding a stationary bike or running along the sideline. The Bulls have been healthy for the most part this week and the regular starters—Rose, John Salmons, Luol Deng, Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah—have finally logged some significant time on the court together.

“It’s getting stronger,” Rose said of the team’s chemistry. “Everyone likes each other and we rarely argue. There are a lot of good guys on the team and no attitude problems.”

Audio—Del Negro discusses limiting Rose’s minutes, matching up against the Spurs, and recollections (or not) of his first NBA game:

Bulls making strides on defense

The Bulls finished with the best defensive field goal percentage in the NBA during the exhibition season, holding opponents to 40.3 percent shooting over eight games.

Since training camp opened a month ago, coaches and management alike have stressed the need to become better defenders on a consistent basis. Thought it was just the preseason, the top ranking certainly indicates a step in the right direction.

“We feel like the only way we can accomplish what we want to accomplish is to get it done on the defensive end,” said Salmons. “That’s the only way you can win games consistently. Scoring the ball will come and go, but if you can be consistent on defense every night, it gives you a chance to win.”

Del Negro agreed that the Bulls have improved defensively. He added that the trusting each other takes time and that the team’s communication had gotten better as rotations have become sharper.

“We’re a lot better,” Rose echoed. “We help a lot when we play against each other and it’s tough to score. Some teams in the NBA are going to have trouble with us.

“Everybody is communicating,” continued Rose. “That’s the biggest thing on defense. You need to let each other know where you are on the court and you have to have each other’s back. Another thing you’ve got to have is trust.”

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