"My confidence is through the roof, man," Rose said Friday after scoring 21 points and grabbing four rebounds in the Bulls' 109-102 victory against the Boston Celtics. "I don't need no more confidence, I just need to play. I know how good I am and I know how good I'm going to be. It's just that I just need to be out there playing."
The performance gives Rose and the Bulls an added boost for a variety of reasons. The Bulls had lost three of their past four, and Rose came into the game having played only 10 minutes in Tuesday's loss to the Denver Nuggets, after being subbed out at halftime because of what the team called left hamstring tightness.
The difference for Rose between Tuesday's game and Friday's was simple in Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau's eyes.
"He played," Thibodeau said.
"The thing for Derrick is he's got to keep building," Thibodeau said. "Honestly, I looked at the 10 minutes [in Denver] as a positive. Back-to-back [games], he's out there. I looked at the last two days, practicing and practicing hard, so he plays better. That's how he's going to shake the rust off. So I just want him to keep building. That's what I want him to do. He's got to be out there in order to do that."
Friday's win also marked the return of Bulls center Joakim Noah, who missed Tuesday's game because of left eye and left knee injuries. Noah looked as active as he's been all season, racking up 15 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and six blocked shots against the Celtics.
"I just like seeing him alive, the bounce," Thibodeau said. "Jo's game is hard to measure statistically. It really is. And I told him that [Thursday]. ... But when you look at his plus/minus [numbers] when he's on the floor, they're off the charts."
Noah said he could tell he was feeling better by the way he was moving on the floor. But like most people in the Bulls' locker room, he was most interested in talking about Rose's awakening.
Rose has missed eight games already this season because of various injuries, but his teammates remain firmly in his corner.
"I think Derrick played really well," Noah said. "And I think every time he's on the court it just makes our team that much more dangerous. It's always great to have him on the court."
Thibodeau sees the difference in how his team plays with Rose on the floor.
"He was playing with a high intensity level," Thibodeau said. "And when he plays like that, it's huge for our team. ... Every time he's out there, it's important."
In other injury related news, Bulls power forward Taj Gibson has rejoined the team. He'd missed the past week after spraining his left ankle in last Friday night's loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. Gibson said he got a cortisone shot in his ankle and is unsure when he will return to the floor.