CHICAGO -- For the first time since breaking his left orbital bone Sept. 29, Derrick Rose played without a protective mask Thursday night in the second half of the Bulls' 83-80 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
"It was my decision," Rose said after the game. "When I went out there [for the second half], play started, I forgot to put it on. And I said, 'You know what? I'm just going to leave it on the side.' It ended up working out for me."
Rose, who was held scoreless in the first half, finished with 11 points, including nine in the fourth quarter, in 28 minutes of play.
He said he wasn't hit around the eye but acknowledged that playing without the mask changed his game plan a little.
"That's why I was shooting a lot of floaters," Rose said. "I didn't want to go to the lane that hard. But they went down tonight, and I was able to get good looks."
Rose, who said he was told three days ago by the Bulls' medical staff that he could start playing without the mask, said he isn't sure whether he will continue to play without it.
"Who knows?" he said. "Next game I may have it on, I may have it off, depending on how I'm feeling."
Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said before Thursday's game that he met with Rose and was hopeful that Rose would start pushing the tempo more with the ball. After playing seven minutes in the first quarter, Rose played only 3:40 in the second quarter as Hoiberg decided to roll with Kirk Hinrich and Aaron Brooks. Rose said he asked Hoiberg to take him out of the game because he was "winded."
"My legs are there," Rose said. "But it's all about putting your game back together. With my game, I got floaters, I can drive, I got midrange. I'm a crafty-type player whenever I get in the lane, so it's all about just getting my timing back."
Rose said Hoiberg wanted him to get the ball up the floor with 21 seconds left on the shot clock.
"He gave me a set time that he wanted me to get the ball over the [half-court line]," Rose said. "He just wants me to push the pace, and guys will work their way into playing that way."
Rose's teammates didn't seem to notice that he was playing without the mask.
"I didn't even notice that, you know that?" Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler said. "I wasn't even paying [attention to that]. I'll be so locked into the game -- I like that, though. As long as he's aggressive taking shots, man. That's the Derrick that we need. He's getting it back slowly but surely, and I think he was huge for us, mask or no mask."