Published May 03, 2016
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Bulls will seek a 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals Monday when they host the Milwaukee Bucks at the United Center.
Derrick Rose shined for Chicago in Saturday's 103-91 victory in Game 1.
Rose looked as healthy as he has all season and netted 23 points to lead the third-seeded Bulls. Rose's career has been filled with injuries and lost seasons since his MVP campaign in 2010-11. He's missed nearly 50 games per season over his last three, including 31 this season, and hadn't appeared in a postseason game since tearing his ACL in 2012 against Philadelphia.
But the explosiveness and creativity that made Rose one of the league's best talents four years ago made a timely cameo, helping him finish 9-for-16 from the floor with seven assists.
"I feel good. I feel normal," said Rose. "I'm grateful to be playing with my teammates that I have right now. They allow me to play the way I normally play, and it's an honor."
Jimmy Butler scored a game-high 25 points and Pau Gasol posted 10 points and 13 rebounds for the Bulls. Butler missed several games late in the season, but Chicago is whole once again.
"It was good to have them out there again," said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, referring to his starting backcourt of Rose and Butler. "It's been a long process for them, and it obviously makes our team a lot different. They got off to a great start."
Chicago's projected starting lineup of Rose, Butler, Gasol, Mike Dunleavy and Joakim Noah played 15 games together during the regular season.
Khris Middleton scored 18 points to lead five Bucks in double figures.
"We did a solid job of trying to fight and hang in there when they got the lead," said Middleton. "We have to make some adjustments and then we'll be fine."
Ersan Ilyasova (15), John Henson (12), Giannis Antetokounmpo (12) and Jerryd Bayless (11) also cracked the 10-point plateau. Zaza Pachulia grabbed 10 rebounds in the losing effort.
Rose sat for more than six minutes in the first quarter and looked fresh when he checked back in at 8:06 of the second. He scored on two straight possessions after checking in to make it 46-39, darted through two defenders for a reverse layup at 5:00 and again scored on consecutive touches late in the frame.
Rose shot 5-for-5 in the quarter and Chicago led 60-51 at halftime.
Middleton scored six during Milwaukee's 8-2 run to open the third. Out of a timeout, Butler fed Noah for a layup then sank two free throws before Rose once again took over.
Rose, who shot just 28 percent from behind the arc this season and missed his first three attempts on Saturday, made three 3-pointers in a 2 1/2-minute window to extend the lead into double figures.
That's where it stayed for most of the rest of the game.
Game 3 is scheduled for Thursday night in Milwaukee.