Derrick Rose fought back tears moments after he scored a career-high 50 points in a performance that clinched the win for the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves over the Utah Jazz 128-125 on Wednesday in Minneapolis.
His teammates swarmed the 2011 NBA MVP on the court as the final buzzer sounded.
"It still didn't even hit me yet," Rose said. "Words can't explain how I feel right now. It's been a while."
Rose, who had been derailed by injuries for years, walked off with the crowd cheering "MVP! MVP!"
“This is the first year in five years he didn’t have to go through rehab in the summer,’’ Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said, according to the Star-Tribune of Minneapolis. “I know the person he is. I know the character he has. And it shines through.’’
The point guard shot 19 of 31 from the field, four of seven 3-pointers and eight of 11 free throws. The 30-year-old played 41 minutes, his most in nearly two years.
He hit two free throws with 13.8 seconds left in the game, putting Minnesota up by three points.
"He has courage, he has humility and he has character," said Thibodeau, who also coached Rose during his prime seasons in Chicago. "He's maybe one of the most mentally tough people I've ever come across."
Rose had 34 points in the second half and 15 in a tightly contested fourth quarter as the Wolves held off the Jazz, who waived Rose in February after two days.
"He made a lot of plays, made some tough shots," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "We had some breakdowns, a little bit of everything."
Rose's previous career-high was 44 points in a playoff game in 2011, his MVP season, the Star-Tribune reported.
“When I’m at my best, I react instead of think,’’ Rose said, according to the paper. “The last couple years I didn’t have that rhythm. … It’s all just coming together. But it took six or seven years. … But, for me, it’s only the beginning.’’
The Associated Press contributed to this report.