- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEW YORK -- When Derrick Rose began to consider his minute-load in his return to the starting lineup, he said, following Saturday's practice, that while Tom Thibodeau may try to limit his minutes initially, he would have a say on the matter if the game was close down the stretch.
"I think it's up to me if I want to play a certain amount of minutes," Rose said. "I know that if it's a close game, no matter how many minutes they allow me to play, I know that I'm going to want to go out there, probably fight somebody to go out there. But I should be all right."
Rose was alright on most counts Sunday afternoon. After missing the past 12 games because of a groin injury, Rose scored 29 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists in his return. He also ended up playing 39 minutes. The only problem for Rose was that when he had the chance to salt the game away at the free-throw line, he missed two shots with 19.4 seconds that would have done it. The Bulls, who had a three-point lead at the time, couldn't hold on due to the fact that Rose and Luol Deng (who missed two free throws seconds earlier) couldn't make the big shots when they counted.
"I told them where if I was out there and we needed to win the game, I wanted to be in the game and [Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau] put me in," Rose said. "I missed them damn free throws. Next time, I know I'll for sure hit one of them."
Aside from the missed free throws, Rose said he felt fine in his return.
"I felt good," Rose said. "When I was out there [I was] just getting my groove back. My wind was OK; just playing. It just felt good to be out there."
Thibodeau noted before the game that he may try to limit Rose's minutes in the beginning, just to see how his start was feeling, but that plan went out the window when the game went into overtime.
"He said he was great," Thibodeau said. "I talked to [athletic trainer] Fred [Tedeschi] during the game, he said he was fine so he's good."
Thibodeau was pleased with Rose's overall performance.
"About what we expected," he said. "Some good, some bad. Handling the ball was a problem. But our whole team ... we didn't take care of the ball so we put them in the open floor."
Rose said he wasn't concerned with the fact he played so many minutes in his return.
"I'm not worried about that," he said. "My thing is just trying to get better. Defensively we [weren't] just there tonight and hopefully next time we play them, we come out with a sense of urgency."
Noah struggles in homecoming: Joakim Noah relishes any opportunity to play in New York, where he spent of a majority of time during his teenage years. But Noah did not perform the way he would have liked on Sunday. Aside from a solid overtime session, Noah struggled to make a difference on the floor. The lack of production caught Thibodeau's attention.
"He's got to be ready from the start," Thibodeau said. "He's got to bring energy. When you're an energy player, you've got to bring it every game. He's shown that when he plays with great energy he's terrific and when he's playing with great energy, we're playing with great energy. But it wasn't only him, it was our entire team."
The last word: "You can't be giving up that shot. It's the only thing that gets you in trouble is the three. You don't give it up. You make them drive. You make them take the two," -- Thibodeau on the Bulls' defense on Carmelo Anthony at the end of regulation and overtime.
10dMatt Walks, ESPN.com