By Harry Allison
It’s been three years since Derrick Rose suffered an ACL injury against the Sixers in the playoffs.
He has come back from that injury, suffered others and come back, and last night against the Sixers was his third game back again.
He celebrated with 22 points, eight assists and no turnovers in 28 minutes as the Bulls beat the pesky Sixers 107-104.
“I thought he played terrific — in all areas,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “You can tell he feels good, and that’s the most important thing.”
After being limited to 20 minutes in his first two games, Rose was given more minutes Saturday and made the most of them.
He wasn’t quite MVP-caliber, but attacked the basket and finished in traffic — and showed that he could be ready to perform at a high level when the playoffs begin next week.
“I’m getting there,” Rose said. “It’s still going tio take time. I’m just happy I have the teammates I have. When a guy’s missed so many games and comes back … they’re sticking with me, so I’m grateful, excited and filled with joy that I’m back playing.”
Pau Gasol added 24 points and 13 rebounds to help the Bulls remain tied with theToronto Raptors for third place in the Eastern Conference.
The 76ers dressed just nine players, but stayed close with an aggressive, attacking style on both ends. Robert Covington led Philly with 22 points, Jason Richardson had 19, and JaKarr Sampson 18.
The Bulls have dropped seven home games to teams with losing records this season, so it wasn’t surprising they got off to a sluggish start against Philly and had to battle to the end.
The Bulls opened up leads of at least seven points — they led by as many as nine — on four occasions in the fourth only to see the 76ers charge back within striking range. The spread was just three points before Rose scored on a spinning driving layup with a minute to play for a 110-105 lead.
“I just felt like we took the circumstance and we tried to make it work as best we could,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “To do that with no point guards and have our guys respond the way they did, I really can’t ask much more from them.”