Derrick Rose starts vs. Hawks

Updated: February 20, 2012, 8:29 PM ET
ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose, who missed the last five games with back spasms, started Monday's 90-79 matinee win against the Atlanta Hawks at the United Center.

Rose scored 23 points and had six assists in 35 minutes.

Rose did not make himself available for comment afterward. Coach Tom Thibodeau said his conditioning is "not where it usually is," but the explosiveness was there.

"Overall, I was very pleased," he said after the game. "Derrick said he felt really good out there."

Rose played 16 minutes in the first half, scoring 16 points while hitting on 5 of 11 from the field and 2 of 3 from three-point range. Rose showed no obvious signs of rust or hesitation as he slashed to the rim. He had three assists, three rebounds and a turnover in the first half.

Rose took one hard fall midway through the first quarter, but he bounced back quickly.

Bulls head athletic trainer Fred Tedeschi cleared Rose to play 90 minutes before game time.

"We watched him work yesterday," Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said. "(Thibodeau) put him through a workout of all the things that are going to be required of him.

"The thing with his injury is it was locked up in one area. It was plain and simple back spasms, so he seems to be healthy. I think you can tell from the other night (a loss to the Nets) that we need him and we need our roster intact to play with some consistency and compete the way we want to compete."

Meanwhile, C.J. Watson, who was hit in the head during Saturday's loss, and Rip Hamilton (groin/thigh) were ruled out.

Rose felt his back tighten up on Feb. 4 in Milwaukee. He had to leave a game two days later in New Jersey because of spasms, and after playing limited minutes on Feb. 8 in New Orleans, Rose sat the next five games. The Bulls went 3-2 during that stretch.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.