CHICAGO -- Derrick Rose's return made everyone in the Bulls' locker room smile Monday, except for the all the reporters who were left standing at his stall waiting for him to appear. Rose may not have made himself available to the media after the game, but his presence on the floor gave his teammates a sense of confidence they hadn't had since he went down with back spasms almost two weeks ago.
When asked just how much different things are with Rose on the floor, Bulls center Joakim Noah looked frustrated that he had to field such a question.
"I think that's pretty obvious," Noah said. "We're not going anywhere without Derrick's play. It was good to have him out there and he looked pretty healthy out there. I'm sure he's sore. Two weeks off and coming back and playing an NBA game is not something that's easy. So I was pretty impressed with the way he played tonight."
So were the rest of his teammates. With Rose back on the floor, the Bulls moved up and down the floor, at least at the beginning of the game, the way they had been doing before Rose got hurt. There were open lanes for his teammates that hadn't been there for the past five games.
"He puts a lot of pressure on opposing teams and players," Bulls guard Ronnie Brewer said. "Just him being on the floor. Him attacking the rim allows somebody like myself to cut backdoor, get easy shots on the baseline or in the corner. Easy drop off passes to (Carlos Boozer) and Joakim. He does a lot of things out there really well and takes a lot of pressure off our team."
Boozer put it a little more succinctly.
"He's our engine," Boozer said. "He got everybody in the right spots. His poise. He gives us a great calm out there."
With the 23-year-old MVP on the floor, the Bulls have the type of offensive weapon that gives them the confidence that they can knock off any team at any time. Playing alongside Rose gives his teammates the type of extra energy they need to get to the rim. With Rose on the floor, defenses can't take their eyes off him. This opens up the game for everyone else.
"Things are different," Noah said. "He's an unbelievable scorer. He just does everything for us. It's huge to have him back. It opens up the floor. He knows everybody's tendencies. It's just good to have our floor general back ... When he's attacking the basket, it opens up a lot of lanes and bigs have to go and try to contest his shots. It gives me lanes to the basket so I can get my tip-in game going."
Where did Rose go?: In a very uncharacteristic move, Rose decided not to speak to the assembled media after the game. Speculation will surely run rampant as to why Rose decided not to speak, but teammate John Lucas III may have shed a little light on the decision when he noted that Rose was not happy with his 23-point performance.
"Derrick looks good," Lucas said. "It's good seeing him back on the court. He's getting healthy day by day, so I'm waiting for that beast to come out of him like it always has. It showed today.
"Some of the stuff he was doing looked like he didn't miss a beat, looked like he didn't miss any games. That just show the competitiveness and the mentality he has. We had a conversation, 'Man, I didn't play good.' I was like, 'You played good to me, for your first day back without playing a lot of games.' That's why he was the MVP last year and that's why has a chance to become a back to back MVP too."
Boozer said that Rose didn't seem any different after it was over.
"He was good," Boozer said. "Came in, normal routine, iced down. Got his shower. Went to go talk to the docs and that was that."
While some may wonder if Rose's back was bothering him, Brewer didn't seem to think that was the case.
"He wouldn't be in the game if he wasn't 100 percent and feeling good," Brewer said. "We feel like we have more than enough to win games with him out, so when he decided to play, we knew he was going to go out there and play the style of play he's accustomed to, and that's attacking the rim. Playing very fast. And that's what we expect of him."
The last word: Thibodeau on Rose: "His explosiveness was there. His drive to the basket was there. His conditioning is not where it usually is. Overall, I was very pleased. Derrick said he felt he good out there."