Derrick Rose had 24 points and eight assists in just his second career game in the United Center against his former team, lifting the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 119-94 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 20 points and 20 rebounds as the Timberwolves won their second straight on the road.
Rose, the top pick in the 2008 draft, played his first seven seasons in Chicago and was named the NBA’s most valuable player in 2011. He had missed Minnesota’s previous game with a sore left ankle.
Because of an assortment of injuries, this was just Rose’s fourth career game against the Bulls. He said he got 50 tickets for family and friends.
Zach LaVine had 28 points in 26 minutes off the bench and Lauri Markkanen added 16 for Chicago, which had won two straight and three of five before Wednesday. LaVine had missed the previous five games with a sprained left ankle.
Both Rose and fellow former Bull Taj Gibson received loud ovations when they were announced during player introductions.
Towns scored the game’s first basket, but it was Rose who set the tone early. He repeatedly attacked the basket — showing the form of earlier in his career before the rash of leg injuries — and had 10 points (5-for-8 shooting) and five assists in the first quarter as Minnesota took a 29-18 lead.
The Timberwolves’ advantage was up to 60-37 at halftime.
Rose had 19 points through three quarters as Minnesota took an 83-65 edge into the fourth.
The Bulls pulled within 91-74, but Rose stopped the momentum with a jumper and Dario Saric added a 3-pointer on the next possession for a 96-74 lead with just over seven minutes remaining.
Later in the fourth, the UC crowd started chanting, “MVP… MVP… MVP…” when Rose stepped to the foul line to complete a 3-point play.
Timberwolves: Gibson finished with 16 points in 26 minutes . G Jeff Teague missed his fifth straight game with a left ankle injury.
Bulls: LaVine had been sidelined since injuring the ankle late in the Bulls’ 97-91 loss to the Orlando Magic in Mexico City on Dec. 13. He originally was expected to be sidelined two to four weeks.
Before the game, Thibodeau said Rose was playing at an All-Star level. When asked if he thought that was possible when Minnesota picked up the guard late last season — after he was waived by Utah — Thibodeau said:
“I did. The thing that people forget about Derrick is he was MVP at 22. He was still young and that was the biggest thing. I always felt if he got back to being healthy that he could be very productive.”
Timberwolves: Host the Atlanta Hawks Friday night.
Bulls: At the Washington Wizards Friday night.
Source: The Associated Press