CHICAGO – The roars for Derrick Rose started with the pregame introductions and did not fade until the final buzzer.
The Chicago Bulls superstar was back on his court, back in his element.
Rose showed some of his old explosiveness, fellow Chicago product Anthony Davis scored 20 points, and the U.S. beat Brazil 95-78 on Saturday night in a tuneup for the World Cup of Basketball.
With deafening cheers rocking the arena, Rose looked like an MVP at times even if he only had seven points. He also seemed happy to defer to his teammates in his first appearance at the United Center since his latest season-ending knee injury.
“I think everybody’s excited,” Rose said. “It was cool. At the same time, I can’t get big-headed about it or anything like that. I’ve just got to keep poised.”
What he needs to be is the player he was — or close to it —before the knee injuries started to pile up. A torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and a torn meniscus in his right knee two of the past three seasons derailed a rocketing rise from the city’s South Side to the No. 1 pick in the draft and stardom with his hometown team.
The Bulls are counting on Rose to lead them back to contention in the Eastern Conference after they added some key pieces, including Pau Gasol.
“For Derrick, there are so many positives for this,” said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, a U.S. assistant. “He shakes the rust off. He has a tremendous amount of pride. It’s something that he wants to do and believes that he should do. I think this will be great preparation for the season.”
Davis, who like Rose grew up on Chicago’s South Side, dominated down the stretch, and the U.S. pulled away after Brazil kept it close for three quarters.
With a five-point lead going into the fourth, the U.S. went on a 14-2 run to break open a 68-63 game.
Klay Thompson nailed a 3-pointer to start it, and Davis took over.
He hit two free throws and blocked a shot by Larry Taylor, leading to a three-point play for James Harden.
Davis then threw down an alley-oop dunk to make it a 15-point game, and after Leandro Barbosa scored for Brazil, he nailed a jumper. Harden (18 points) finished the run with two free throws, making it 82-65.
Tiago Splitter scored 16 for Brazil.
Fans started chanting, “We want Rose!” with their favorite player watching from the sideline as the U.S. pulled away.