CHICAGO -- This was the season Derrick Rose's floor game would grow, a testament to all his studying of defensive tendencies while rehabilitating last season and the Bulls' offensive depth.
After Monday's 105-84 exhibition victory over the Bucks, Rose has scored 78 points in his last 80 minutes, 50 seconds. That included 24 against the Bucks, along with four assists and 11 trips to the line.
To be clear, this is a good problem to have. Rose is one of those rare stars who can provide a team with what it needs. Taking over a game? Check. Setting up teammates? Been there, done that.
It's just that with the Bulls' widespread injuries thus far -- which on Monday kept Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler and Kirk Hinrich sidelined -- Rose has been asked to be, well, Rose.
"We're asking him to run the team and play to his strengths," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "When he has a scoring opportunity, we want him to score. When he's got a second defender on him, we want him to make a play. Run the offense. Execute. Lead. Set the tone defensively on the ball. He has to do a lot.
"When you're a player like he is, you want to take advantage of what his strengths are. He's got to share the ball, make the right decisions. I think he's done a good job of leading the team. He's created easy scoring opportunities for other players and made everyone a lot better."
Indeed, the Bulls improved to 6-0 on a night Taj Gibson started at center to match the Bucks' smallish lineup and reached double figures for the sixth straight game. Mike Dunleavy, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and Marquis Teague joined Gibson and Rose in double figures.
One game after criticizing the team's start, the Bulls jumped to leads of 13-2 and 20-4.
"Every preseason game tells you what you need to work on," Thibodeau said.
After 17 first-half points, Rose had scored a ridiculous 71 points in his previous 71:15.
"He's back. That's what I think," Bucks coach Larry Drew said. "He's picking it up where he left off. He's a phenomenal player. I know the league is glad to see him back."
Rose isn't worried about chemistry developing whenever the injuries subside. When that happens, expect Rose's assists average to grow as well.
"We should be fine," Rose said. "The guys know their jobs. Jimmy, when he did play, his defense is what we need. Joakim is energy. And Kirk is going to bring a solid game running the team and knocking down open shots. All the guys on the team know their roles."
Despite all the offseason talk about Rose's floor game growing, his main role remains providing the bulk of scoring. Rose is unfazed by his near point-a-minute pace.
"I still have a long way to go," Rose said. "I had four turnovers. I need to get those down and make better decisions. And I still haven't shot my floater yet, except once. I'm trying to get my rhythm back, and it's coming slowly."
(c)2013 Chicago Tribune
Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services