Three days after his no-show at Madison Square Garden, Derrick Rose was an undeniable presence there Thursday night.
Rose for the most part was cheered when he was announced before the game. He responded with some solid early play and had 17 points and three assists as the Knicks got a much-needed 104-89 win over the Bulls.
The Knicks entered the game in full swoon, having lost nine of their previous 10 games and 12 of 15. The last two losses had been particularly painful.
On Monday night, the Knicks lost by 14 points to New Orleans at home after Rose failed to show up or call his team before the game.
Rose, who had flown to Chicago to see his mother and son, returned to the team Tuesday morning. He was fined but played Wednesday night against the 76ers. Rose scored 25 points against Philadelphia, but the Knicks lost the game on a buzzer-beater.
For the past two days, there has been a heated debate among fans and in social media about what the Knicks ought to do with their talented but mercurial point guard. Before Thursday night’s game, however, Rose seemed almost oblivious to the notion that his no-show might impact his future with the Knicks or hurt his stock with other teams.
When asked if the Knicks might hesitate to re-sign him because of the disappearance, Rose said: “I hope not . . . I would hope one incident wouldn’t change their minds. Who knows? This is a business.”
Rose, 28, played his first eight seasons with the Bulls before being traded to the Knicks during the offseason. While catching up with Chicago reporters before the game, he painted a rosy picture of his time in New York.
“I feel good. I’m very healthy. I’m learning a new system. It’s fun and exciting learning something new coming from Phil and Jeff,” Rose said, referring to team president Phil Jackson and coach Jeff Hornacek. “I’m just loving this experience, to tell you the truth. It’s new. It’s refreshing. I’m blessed to be here.”
Rose told reporters that he is in a better place emotionally than he was when he left the team before Monday’s game.
“Yeah, I got over it when I was with my family,” Rose said, adding that when he returned Tuesday morning, Jackson and general manager Steve Mills asked him if he wanted to play Wednesday in Philadelphia.
“I told them, yeah, it was in the past,’’ he said. “That’s how I react to almost everything in my life like that.”