Rose makes his return Easter Sunday in New York


Apr 8

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There’s wasn’t any two word statement to the media. And Ahmad Rashad didn’t accompany him here on a private jet. But after his longest absence from pro basketball, the Bulls star player and the league MVP returns Sunday.

Derrick Rose is back with the Bulls Sunday against the New York Knicks after missing the last 12 games with a groin injury, 22 overall this season.

“I don’t think he’s going to change who he is,” said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau before the Easter Sunday noon Central start. “He’s going to play to his strengths. He’s an attacking player. I don’t expect him to change.”

Rose has played 34 games this season and averaged 22.8 points. But it’s the most games by far he’s ever missed in high school, college or with the Bulls. The Bulls were 8-4 in this stretch without Rose and 15-7 overall.

Thibodeau said Rose likely will play “a little shorter than normal.”

The general plan is for about eight minutes to start and then eight minutes out and then perhaps a continuation to about 30 minutes for the game

“He’s handled practice well,” said Thibodeau. “But practice and games are totally different. Once he’s out there we’ll see what he can handle. He’s put a lot of time into his conditioning, but it’s not the intensity of an NBA game. So we’ll see once he gets out there.

“He’s done a great job with his conditioning and taken on the contact,” said Thibodeau. “You don’t know where a guy is because it’s such a long period of time. There’s going to be some rust, the timing and stuff like that. It will be interesting to see (where Rose is). What he’s done in the past whenever he’s missed time he’s come back strong and picked things up very quickly.

“Derrick and Rip are fresh, which is good. Now they’ve got to get their timing,” said Thibodeau. “He’s got to feel he can play and play well. He’s gone step by step. He’s gotten through the practice. Each day in practice he was getting closer to who he is. Then he started exploding and going by people. He doesn’t have any restrictions in terms of whether he dunks or doesn’t dunk.

“He’s approached everything great,” said Thibodeau. “It’s unfortunate to be injured, but he’s done a great job with his rehab, being around the team, supporting the team and helping in any way he could.”

The Bulls head into the holiday matinee with a 1-3 record in Sunday afternoon games, losing the last three after coming from behind to steal the Christmas Day game in Los Angeles, which was a later afternoon start.

The Bulls don’t get many of those games at home because the Blackhawks generally have the United Center Sunday while the Bulls have Saturday night. Asked about the Sunday noon game losses this season in Miami, Boston and Oklahoma City, Thibodeau said: “I’d prefer to play a few of them at home.”

Asked to elaborate, he said: “Whatever the circumstances you’ve been given you’ve got to be ready for, early start. You’re going to be tested in a lot of different ways. So early start on the road, late start at home. That’s a big part of the playoffs. Readiness to play is a big key in this league.”

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