Feb 20, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose (1) shoots past Atlanta Hawks guard Kirk Hinrich (6) during the first half at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE

Rose Returns as Bulls Pound Hawks 90-79

Bulls 90, Hawks 79 — FINAL

Derrick Rose returned and the Bulls responded, trashing the Atlanta Hawks 90-79 in Chicago on President’s Day. The Bulls needed Rose back, especially after a devastating and ugly loss to the Nets just two days ago. Although it was advised by some he rest until the All-Star Break, Rose’s return was without a doubt met with standing applause.

Literally — Rose merely dribbled the ball up court on the Bulls first possession and he was met with the kind of ovation you would expect the United Center to pulsate near the end of a huge win.

The MVP didn’t end the theatrics there, going for 14 points before the half and finishing with 23 on the day. The Bulls suffered a 22-3 deficit against the Nets two days previous and with Rose back, the fans in attendance and watching at home were treated to a 55-37 lead for the Bulls at the halfway point.

But the Hawks began to come back — the perfect stage for Rose to triumphantly mark his presence on the court as fully back. Rose hit a few jumpers and the rest was history.

Rose’s return brought a business as usually atmosphere with the rest of the Chicago starters posting up impressive days. Luol Deng was finally able to take it easy going for 10 points and nine rebounds. Carlos Boozer had the best day next to Rose with 16 points and Joakim Noah matched Boozer’s point total in rebounds.

Noah was especially happy to have his MVP teammate back in the mix of things.

“Having him back just opens up everything,” Noah said. “He was very aggressive tonight. When he’s aggressive like that, it opens up everything for everybody, and it gives us a lot of confidence.”

The Bulls went 7-3 without Rose in the lineup and they fell a game behind the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference standings in the meantime. But with him back, Chicago looked like a real championship contender again.

But there was a lot of talk as to whether Rose was rushed back — myself in particular included in this party — but Tom Thibodeau said no one is going to be forced to play if they aren’t ready to.

“Who we’re playing had nothing to do with it,” Thibodeau said. “He felt he was 100 percent and he could go. He was cleared medically to do it. We’ll just go from there. He said he felt well out there.”

Chicago has Tuesday off before they welcome the Milwaukee Bucks into town before the All-Star Break. Now that the Rose drama is behind us, Chicago can take the short break after the Bucks game to regroup and refocus themselves for a championship run. There will be hiccups, as we just endured, but to avoid a full scale derailment things will need to be taken easy.

Hopefully the Bulls realize this and ease Rose back in now so that post the break things can get back to running smoothly.

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