Derrick Rose to stay on minutes cap, admits ankle 'still isn't there'

CLEVELAND -- No matter how well Derrick Rose plays this season, he will remain on a strict 28-to-31-minute restriction, multiple sources told ESPN.

Rose had his best game yet for the Cleveland Cavaliers in Friday's 130-122 win over the Washington Wizards, scoring a season-high 20 points to complement LeBron James' 57-point performance. Rose scored 13 of his points in the first quarter, when he played 10 minutes, then played only 19 minutes the rest of the way.

"Let me say, for one, I'm just happy to be a part of this team, part of something that I think is special," Rose, 29, told ESPN. "A minute restriction, there's nothing I can do about that. But with me having all these injuries in my past, I'm kind of used to it. But whatever the team sees and the staff sees and they want me to do, that's what I'm going to cooperate with and just go about it the right way."

The Cavs arrived at the 28-to-31-minute range for Rose after Cavs coach Tyronn Lue, athletic trainer Steve Spiro and Rose's agent, B.J. Armstrong, came up with a long-term plan that they hope will keep Rose's body fresh for Cleveland's playoff run.

"Knowing that I never played in June, just trying to be cautious with everything around the board," Rose told ESPN.

Rose's hot start against Washington helped the Cavs race to a 42-36 lead after the first quarter. In their previous five games, three of which Rose missed with a sprained left ankle, Cleveland was outscored by a combined 54 points in the opening period.

"Oh, he was big time," James said. "Big time. Very springy, had his jump shot going. He can get in the paint. He just had a bounce in his step. Even though he would like to be out there more, everything he gave us tonight was huge, and we needed it."

Rose played only five minutes in the fourth quarter, with the lion's share of the backcourt minutes going to J.R. Smith and Dwyane Wade. Although Rose's drop-off in second-half production had something to do with minutes, he says his ankle is still bothering him. He left Capital One Arena on Friday wearing a compression sleeve on it.

"My ankle still isn't there yet, so the second half it was getting stiff," Rose said. "But I feel like I'm putting it together, quarter by quarter. Second half, I got to figure out a way to get my ankle back to, I don't know, just make it a little more [pliable]. Warm it up a little or something. In the second half, I was obviously kind of stiff out there, but I believe in my teammates, and that's one of the reasons why I came here. We got a helluva group."

Although his minutes restriction might keep him from being the Cavs' closer, they'll gladly take him in an opener role for now.

"I thought his pace really changed the game," Lue said. "When they had a chance to kind of break it open, he was getting easy layups early to start the game. I thought his pace really helped us keep our spunk up."