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Rose looks strong early in return

CHICAGO -- Playing for the first time in over a week, Derrick Rose returned to a rousing ovation Monday afternoon at the United Center.

The 23-year-old reigning MVP scored nine points in the first quarter as the Bulls raced out to a 35-17 lead over the Atlanta Hawks.

The difference with Rose in the lineup was evident early. He pushed the tempo whenever possible and his teammates followed suit. Ronnie Brewer, who has been struggling with his shot over the past month, found a rhythm with Rose back on the floor, scoring seven points. Luol Deng added seven points as the Bulls shot 61 percent from the field.

Rose took one hard fall midway through the first quarter, but he bounced back quickly, much to the relief of his teammates. Tom Thibodeau had to be feeling good about the way his team is playing, especially considering the Bulls allowed New Jersey to race out to a 22-3 lead on Saturday afternoon.