By Kent Wolgamott
Special contributor for CSNChicago.com
Lincoln, Neb. -- Derrick Rose returned for the Chicago Bulls on Friday, taking the floor for the first time in the preseason midway through the first quarter of the Bulls 103-102 win over the Dallas Mavericks.
Both Rose and coach Fred Hoiberg say he will most likely play in Tuesday’s season opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Rose fractured his left orbital bone near his eye when he was struck by an elbow in practice on Sept. 29 and had it surgically repaired the next day. He hadn’t appeared in the Bulls first eight preseason games.
“I don’t want to jinx myself,” said the oft-injured Rose. “It’s improving every day. So it looks like it’s a go for me.”
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Hoiberg said there’s no reason that Rose won’t play on Tuesday unless he has a set back in the next three days.
“It was great to see him back in uniform,” Hoiberg said. ““Our pace was as good as it’s been all preseason when Derrick got in there and in turn the other guys were out there running with him. He got to the rim, hit a nice little pull up out there….It was a very good first effort for Derrick.”
Rose entered the game at the 7:30 mark of the first period, hitting a driving left-handed layup a couple minutes later. Rose made all three of his shots, which were all at the rim, leaving the game having played just over 5 1/2 minutes.
“That’s what I saw offensively. just a lot of lanes,” he said. “Whenever I see lanes, I’m driving. If someone steps up, I’m hitting who’s ever open and just trying to play basketball.”
He returned with 4:42 remaining in the second quarter and played the remainder of the half, hitting one of two mid-range jumpers. Rose did not return in the second half.
Doug McDermott hit a fade away jumper from about 15 feet with 1 second left to give the Bulls the win. McDermott hit a 3-pointer with 3:36 left to put the Bulls up 92-91, and Tony Snell’s layup gave the Bulls a 94-91 lead. Snell added a 3-pointer with 53 seconds remaining to give the Bulls a 101-95 lead. But the Mavericks chipped away at the lead at the free throw line, and John Jenkins hit a 3 with 5 seconds left to put the Mavs up 102-101.
Hoiberg said he intentionally ran the final play for McDermott, who starred in college at Creighton, in Omaha.
“I wanted to run it for him,” Hoiberg said. “He had a lot of support here, he played an hour down the road. I wanted to put it in his hands and be the guy who wins or loses it for us. I’m glad he won it.”