I'm going to avoid making any "Derrick Rose is back" proclamations, because that burned us in the ass last time. But over the last few games, we've seen the D-Rose we came to know and love several years ago, and it was especially satisfying to see him take a blowtorch to Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers on Thursday night.
As Kevin said in his recap, you could just tell Rose was locked in from the opening tip. He set the tone in the first quarter, scoring nine points on 4-of-5 shooting, with all five of those shots coming in the paint. His very first basket of the night was his fourth dunk of the year on a nifty backdoor cut, and we didn't see any stupid threes or careless turnovers, just Derrick Rose attacking the basket and destroying souls. After that first quarter, it just felt like it was going to be a special night for him.
And it really was, as Rose controlled the entire game. Rose finished with 30 points on 12-of-24 shooting while adding seven assists and four rebounds. He went 6-of-6 from the line and only turned the ball over twice, with both of those coming in gar-bage time. He played 41 minutes, a season high for him in regulation, as Tom Thibodeau rightfully rode the hot hand in the final game before the extended All-Star break.
Looking at Rose's shot chart just makes me happy:
Nine out of 24 shots at the rim. 14 out of 24 shots in the paint. Only TWO three-pointers. Be still, my heart.
This was Rose's second straight excellent game, and third out of four. And even though he shot poorly against the Magic, he still dished out 11 assists, a season high. Over the last four games, Rose is averaging 20.8 points, 7.3 assists and just 1.8 turnovers while shooting 48.6 percent from the field. The three-point shooting has still stunk (26.7 percent), but he took 3.8 per game from deep over the last four games, a more palatable number than around six per game.
It also must be noted that Irving had just 17 points on 6-of-18 shooting against Rose on Thursday. This truly was a domination, and hopefully it's a sign of things to come down the stretch of the season.