By Sam Zuba-
(CBS) Derrick Rose sits in front of his locker, lacing up his shoes and waiting.
He’s waiting to rid himself of the bad taste left in his mouth from the last time he took the floor at the United Center. Rose and the Bulls remember it well — the crushing 83-80 loss to the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
It’s a new year now, though, and Rose is just minutes away from giving the city of Chicago its first up-close look at the reigning MVP of the league.
Rose’s journey to become the youngest MVP in league history even further solidified the glaring notion that the Bulls are his team.
And he knows it.
“The crowd,” Rose quickly responded when asked what his favorite part of playing at the United Center was before the start of the Bulls’ home opener Sunday night. “I know they’re here for me.”
Looking out across the 22,763 fans that traveled to the UC to see the Bulls blow out the Memphis Grizzlies by 40 points, little question remains as to who this team belongs to.
The fans want Rose — so much so that it’s impossible to make out the latter half of Rose’s pregame introduction due to the cheers, reminiscent of the treatment given to Michael Jordan in the 90s.
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau tried to sum up just what Rose means to the Bulls.
“He gives you whatever the team needs,” Thibodeau said.
It’s simple, really. Rose knows what he means to this team, to this city, and he knows the weight of bringing a championship back to Chicago is on his shoulders.
“I know that when it comes down to making plays or making shots, I know I’m capable of doing it,” Rose said.
Bulls Lose Watson
The joy in the Bulls locker room after the 40-point drudging of the Grizzlies came at a price.
That price was the health of C.J. Watson.
Late in the fourth quarter, Watson fell awkwardly on his left elbow. He immediately left the game and went into the locker room.
Though Thibodeau said X-rays were negative, Watson was wearing a sling after the game.
Thibodeau said the team will know more Monday once the swelling goes down.
While how long Watson will be out remains unknown, Thibodeau is confident the reserves will be ready.
“When you have an injury, the next guy has to step in,” he said. “That’s why you have them.”
Richard Hamilton was a late scratch from Sunday’s game, as a tweaked groin suffered in Friday’s win over the Clippers continues to bother him. He is day-to-day.
“We want to play it safe,” Thibodeau said. “We want to make sure he’s good. We decided at the last minute to sit him out.”
Boozer Returns To Jazz Form
To some, Carlos Boozer will always be looked at as Plan B.
When the Bulls missed out on LeBron James and Dwayne Wade in 2010, they offered a desperation, five-year, $80 million contract to Boozer to lure him away from the Jazz.
During his first season with the Bulls, Boozer appeared out of shape, lazy and like a complete bust. One year later, however, he’s beginning to look like the player the Bulls thought they were getting when they made the deal.
The 6-foot-9-inch forward put up 17 points and 11 rebounds in the Bulls home opener, though he didn’t play in the fourth quarter. Boozer scored 15 of those 17 points in the first half.
“Carlos was great tonight,” Thibodeau said. “He was really, really good. He ran the floor, played defense, rebonded the ball, scored. He played really, really well.”
Though it may be a nice surprise, Boozer’s resurgence is nothing shocking to those within the team.
“This is Booz, right here,” Rose said. “His confidence is high, we just have to keep it up.”
Bench Takes Over
With the Bulls up by over 30 points late in the third quarter, Thibodeau elected to sit his starter and let the bench take over.
The Bulls bench combined for 35 points, behind eight from Omer Asik and John Lucas.
“The bench is always good,” Thibodeau said. “Whatever you ask them to do, they get it done. Omer is starting to react to the ball again. His rebounding has been terrific. … We need everybody.”
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