NEW YORK – The Timberwolves defeated the Nets 112-102 a little after 2 p.m. local time in Brooklyn on Friday. That’s not an insignificant detail for Derrick Rose.
“That’s when you’re normally taking your nap,” Rose said.
So maybe the Wolves have the scheduling gods to thank for a noon tipoff because it meant Rose, his muscles and motor skills could still operate at an optimal level before nap time. They required every bit of what Rose had to give in fending off the Nets, who nearly erased a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit.
Rose refused to let that happen, scoring a game-high 25 points, including a crucial running shot with 1 minute, 42 seconds to play that put the Wolves up six and made sure they finally got their first road victory in nine tries. Karl-Anthony Towns pitched in as well, dancing around foul trouble to score 21 points, 17 of which came in the third quarter when the Wolves built their lead.
“To tell you the truth, I’ll take this game over a 2 p.m. game time just because it feels more like practice,” Rose said.
All the practice Rose has put into his shot has paid off for him and the Wolves, and his offensive resurgence continued Friday in another efficient performance. He went 11-for-17 from the field, hit both of his three-point tries to raise his percentage to 48 and made an impressive outlet pass to Tyus Jones in which Rose caught a pass and heaved the ball from one end of the floor to the other in one motion with one hand.
Rose has talked a lot this season about just needing opportunity to show injuries didn’t destroy his talent. He has grabbed the opportunity coach Tom Thibodeau has given him and sprinted with it.
“This is how I play. This is how I adapted,” Rose said. “I don’t even know what I had tonight. I don’t care. You know what I mean? As long as we won, that’s the only thing I care about. I’m not out there searching for my points. If the team needs me to score at certain times, I’m going to try to score.”
The Wolves did in the fourth quarter, and he responded by scoring 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting with the runner the capstone of another game in which Rose had even opposing fans fawning over his moves.
Friday wasn’t his virtuoso 50-point performance from last month against the Jazz, but it was just as vital to getting the Wolves back in the win column after they dropped their previous two games at home. It seems Rose still is taking the league by storm, but those who have known him aren’t in that group.
“I watched him the year he was [on the Knicks], and the only time he hasn’t played well has been when he’s been injured,” Thibodeau said. “So I’m not surprised.”
Perhaps the most prescient observation about Rose came from backcourt mate Jeff Teague. To him, Rose’s performance hasn’t had much to do with where he is approaching things from a basketball standpoint.
“Everything off the court with him is just like — peace,” Teague said. “I see him at peace all the time. When you’re injury-free and have peace, I think good things happen.”
After Friday, Rose was looking forward to having some Asian fusion food that his girlfriend picked up from one of his favorite New York restaurants.
“I’ll be able to eat good when I make it back home,” Rose said.
But first was a plane ride back to Minnesota — and that nap, a few hours of peace.