Derrick Rose, the 2010-11 MVP, now has his sights set on winning another piece of NBA hardware.

“I would like winning Sixth Man of the Year,” Rose said before Saturday’s game. “I don’t think that’s anything bad to say or a bad goal with me coming off the bench. I want to be the best bench player. It’s just how I feel. If anything I think it’d help the team.”

Rose is undergoing a career renaissance in his first full season with the Wolves and has led a revived second unit that is among the best benches in the NBA. His numbers would certainly put him in the discussion for best sixth man. Rose is averaging 19 points per game on 14.3 shots and is shooting a career-best 48.6 percent on three-pointers.

“With me coming off the bench, it’s kind of weird,” Rose said. “But at the same time that’s why I’m here — to do my job, and that’s to help the young guys. When I get in the game, make winning plays and figure it out with them while I’m out there.”

Coach Tom Thibodeau isn’t going to go out of his way to get Rose the award — if injuries force Rose to start, then he will.

“I think about one thing: winning,” Thibodeau said. “With individual awards, it’s always good to have goals. But you always put the team first, and the more you win, the more people get recognized. If we win big, good things will happen for the whole team.”

Rose has said one reason he is thriving with the Wolves is because he is at peace on and off the court.

“This is the happiest I’ve been in a long time,” Rose said. “I’m coming in not worrying about the media like I did, like I had to worry about in Chicago. Or dealing with the front office like I did in Chicago, or just dealing with any problems. I’m coming in worry-free, focused on the game that night, and that’s how it’s supposed to be.”

A big rebound

The Wolves’ improved rebounding has been one factor behind the team’s defensive renaissance since Robert Covington and Dario Saric joined. Before the trade the Wolves had the worst defensive rebounding percentage in the league at .67. That means they were grabbing 67 percent of all available defensive rebounds.

Since then, the Wolves are ending more possessions after just one shot. Over the past eight games, when Covington and Saric entered the lineup, their defensive rebounding percentage is .732, 11th best in the league over the stretch. The Wolves aren’t an elite rebounding team, but they’re much better than they were.

“We’re doing a great job of making them miss,” Karl-Anthony Towns said. “To get a rebound you’ve got make them miss, and we’re doing a better job of that.”

Added Covington: “I’ve definitely paid attention to that, but it’s just guys playing more freely, more confident, and attention to detail is a lot more in depth now.”


• Entering Saturday, the Wolves were 5-0 when allowing fewer than 100 points. They were 6-11 when allowing 100 points or more.

• The Wolves had a chance to win their fifth consecutive game, which would have matched their longest win streak last season.

• The Celtics are in the middle of a 15-game stretch in which travel was required before every game. They won’t play consecutive home games again until Dec. 19 and Dec. 21.