Derrick Rose joins Bulls on bench

INDIANAPOLIS -- Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose sat on the bench with his teammates Sunday night during their game against the Indiana Pacers. It marked the first time Rose had done that since tearing the ACL in his left knee in the first game of the Eastern Conference playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers last April.

Rose, dressed in a light blue blazer, white shirt and gray slacks, started the game seated between assistant coach Ed Pinckney and rookie guard Marquis Teague.

Despite the Bulls' 97-92 loss to the Pacers, it was clear Rose enjoyed his time being back out on the floor. He was jumping up and down during most of the contest while screaming words of encouragement to the team.

His teammates enjoyed having him around, as well.

"It was great," Joakim Noah said. "It was great. I know that it's tough for him to be on the bench because he wants to play, but it feels good to have him out there. It's really good to have him on the bench and being a part of it."

Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler agreed.

"It was great because he sees things that a lot of guys don't see -- being a point guard and being there watching the game." Butler said. "It definitely helps to have him in your ear, have him on your side and pushing because he's still giving his energy and his say-so from the sideline."

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said there was no significance to Rose sitting on the bench.

"We talked about it from the beginning," Thibodeau said. "The reason he's been in back [during games] is because he's been working in back. There's stuff that he's doing back there and now he's not doing that as much, he's doing more before the game, so that part's taken care of. It's just the next step; he may not even be out there all the time. If he wants to come out, great. If he doesn't, that's fine, too. Again, his focus has to be on the rehab. The team has to focus on our improvement and our next game. So at some point he'll be ready to go."

Rose started traveling with the Bulls again after Jan. 1. His return this season is still questionable as he continues rehabbing from the knee injury. As has become a regular occurrence, Rose worked out before Sunday's game, taking jumpers and working on his cardio.