CHICAGO -- Tom Thibodeau offered a simple explanation on Saturday when asked why he decided to put Derrick Rose back into Saturday night's win over the Indiana Pacers in the fourth quarter with the Bulls leading by 20 points.
"We needed him," he said.
On most nights, Thibodeau's explanation would be understandable. The veteran coach didn't want to let a solid Pacers team back into a game the Bulls controlled all night. But the rules for Rose are different given his injury history, especially since Rose missed practice all week -- and Friday's game -- because of a right hamstring injury. Knowing all that, Thibodeau was still undeterred.
"We talked about it before the game," Thibodeau said. "And we talked about it at halftime. We wanted to keep the number around 30. He was feeling good, had a pretty good rhythm."
This is the catch-22 Thibodeau will find himself in the rest of the season. Until midway through Saturday night's game, Rose hadn't really found his rhythm all year. He was struggling to find his place in the Bulls' offense and didn't look very comfortable on the court. The problem is that Rose was still getting over the hamstring injury and the fact that Thibodeau would re-insert his start into a game that appeared all but over surprised many -- even Rose.
"Yeah, [I was] a little surprised," Rose admitted. "But I wanted the minutes. Just to get me my rhythm, being out there with Kirk [Hinrich] just playing basketball and I think we moved the ball well this game."
The question is: Even if Rose wanted the minutes, and even if he was still around the 30-minute plan the training staff mapped out, should Thibodeau have put him back into a game like this so early in the season?
It's the question that fans will continue to ask themselves all year long and one they've pondered since Thibodeau came to Chicago. Thibodeau remains one of the best coaches in the league -- but the biggest criticism of him in his tenure has been that he rides his stars too hard in the regular season and they run out of gas down the stretch.
Now, is the fact that Rose played the final 8:13 in a blowout win in November going to mean he can't perform well in May? No, but all those extra minutes add up over the grind of an 82-game season.
What's next: The Bulls face off against the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday night.
The Bulls aren't surprised that Thibodeau never takes his foot off the gas during games. They know there is never a point when he will ease up during a game, but they have also come to grips with that part of his hard-charging demeanor.
"Never," Bulls forward Taj Gibson said. "I don't think so. He was still raving when we went up 30-something in the fourth. But that's what makes our team go. By him yelling at us each and every time, we're just used to it now. I can see if we were just wet behind the ears and it was his first year and he was just yelling and raving at us but even though he yells at us he still calms down and he's patient and talks to us. Like I know you're better than that and you've just got to switch it up better and we talk and communicate. But to the outside world that's how he is, aggressive like that. He's aggressive like that at practice and it shows the way we play."
The last word: Carlos Boozer -- "Over the course of the season you go through ups and downs. Unfortunately for us we started the season on kind of a low part. But the great thing about that [is] everybody got off our bandwagon. Now we're kind of under the radar. ... The great thing about our team is we work hard. We're not one of them teams that just BS's through practice or don't work on our game -- we work on our game. So with the talent we have in this room, it was inevitable that we were going to get better."