CHICAGO — Derrick Rose said everything he wanted to say about his health on the court.
Rose had 24 points and seven assists in his return to the lineup, and the balanced Chicago Bulls beat the Detroit Pistons 102-91 on Monday night.
“In the first half, I thought he set the tone for us,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “And certainly the way he finished was great.”
Rose was 9 for 20 from the field in a season-high 32 minutes after being sidelined by sprained ankles. The 2011 NBA MVP had missed four of the previous five games after he was injured in a 114-108 overtime loss to Cleveland on Oct. 31.
Rose departed before the media was allowed in the locker room, leaving his teammates to discuss his best performance of the young season.
“He was confident out there and he was just playing his style of basketball, which was good for us because he’s so fast and he’s getting out in transition, getting guys layups and dunks,” said Jimmy Butler, who finished with 19 points. “Then he’s stepping up and making big shots. It’s always a plus to have him on your team.”
Pau Gasol had 17 points and 15 rebounds for Chicago, and Joakim Noah finished with 13 points, 14 boards and six assists. The Bulls outrebounded the Pistons 49-46 after they had lost the battle on the glass in the previous six games, rankling the hard-nosed Thibodeau.
Josh Smith had 19 points and 11 rebounds for Detroit, which was coming off a 97-96 home loss to Utah on Sunday. Greg Monroe had 16 points and 10 boards, and reserve D.J. Augustin scored 16.
“The second half was a positive for us by and large,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “But when you give away the first half and then play better, but still come up short, I can’t accept it. You have to play to win.”
Pistons center Andre Drummond, who began the game in a jersey that had his name misspelled on the back, grabbed 12 rebounds, but was 0 for 5 from the field and finished with two points.
The Pistons trailed by as many as 19, but Kyle Singler had a layup and Augustin made a long jumper to trim Chicago’s lead to 90-88 with 2:43 remaining.
Gasol responded with a clutch jumper and Smith missed a 3-pointer on the other end for Detroit. Rose then came down and found Butler for a 3, making it 95-88 with 1:56 left.
Rose also hit a key jumper and two foul shots to help the Bulls hold on down the stretch.
Detroit dropped the opener of a four-game trip to fall to 0-3 on the road this season. Brandon Jennings had 11 points and eight assists, but also committed four turnovers.
“It’s the little things we have to get better at,” Monroe said. “We have to pay attention to details defensively.”
Rose had his best play of the night in the final seconds of the first half, when he faked a cross-court pass in midair, and then fired underneath to Noah for a layup. The flashy move was reminiscent of Rose’s MVP season and helped the Bulls to a 60-44 lead at the break.
-Published by Andrew Thompson