HOUSTON – Doing what needs to be done, Timberwolves reserve guard Derrick Rose played 24 minutes — the most he has played since he signed last month — in Sunday’s Game 1 because Jeff Teague and Andrew Wiggins got into foul trouble.
Rose’s 16 points led a Wolves bench in the 104-101 loss that outscored Houston’s 38-15, while Rose’s former Chicago teammate, Jimmy Butler, went 4-for-11 from the field and scored 13 points.
Seven years ago, Rose was coming off a league MVP season just as Butler was entering the NBA as a rookie.
Now it’s all changed.
“It’s not weird,” Rose said. “We’re at two different stages of our career. He’s a superstar right now and I’m a guy who’s trying to find his way back into the league. Right now, that’s where it’s at. We all know what it is. Jimmy is a hell of a player. Whenever I’m on the floor with him, I of course am trying to impress him, let him know I still have it.”
Butler has called himself impressed since the Wolves signed Rose on March 8.
“I’ve been telling everybody since he has been on our team what he’s capable of,” Butler said. “He plays with a lot of energy. He plays ball the right way. He can still score and get to the rim at will. He was a big burst for us off the bench.”
Rose also is a player Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau knows and trusts. While Rose played on, Tyus Jones played 7½ minutes.
“Whatever he wants,” Rose said. “That’s my job being here, just trying to be a professional. Whenever I’m in, just try to make winning plays. Play as hard as I can. It’s not up to me about the minutes. It’s all up to Thibs.”
• While Rockets superstar James Harden delivered a MVP-like performance in Game 1, backcourt mate Chris Paul committed six turnovers, including a throwaway in the final 10 seconds that gave the Wolves the ball and the chance for a tying shot. “The worst thing is those turnovers, man,” Paul said. “I feel like I was with the Bad News Bears.”
• Wolves forward Amile Jefferson was named to three All-NBA G League teams: All-Rookie first team, All-Defensive first team and All-G League second team.