Derrick Rose looked quiet compared to the rest of the starters on the NBA Eastern Conference. Maybe it’s just him, or maybe his back was still troubling him. Whatever it was, nothing was stopping Rose from being fantastic, scoring 32 points to lead the Chicago Bulls against a surprisingly tough New Orleans Hornets, 99-95.

Kicking off the second half of the season with their starting five finally intact was an important occurrence for the Bulls, as Rip Hamilton played in only his 12th game this season. He finished with 5 points and 5 assists, playing 17 minutes. Rose played 41 minutes, scoring 32 points and dishing 9 assists, missing a chance of being the third Bulls double-double player on the night, with Joakim Noah finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds and Deng finished with 14 points and 11 boards.

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It was Noah’s third 15-16 game of the season, and second in two weeks. For Deng, it was his 7th double double of the season, averaging 15.8 points and 7.1 rebounds. He even got to play more than Rose, staying 42 minutes on the court on a bad shooting night for him and the entire Bulls’ team.

If the Bulls didn’t already have the advantage over the Hornets, missing too many players to injuries this season, with their starting lineup, their bench, arguably the best in the NBA, should have been doing the job. However, the Hornets’ bench outscored Chicago 39-19, as three players finished in double figures. Chris Kaman led all Hornets with 17 points.

Chicago shot terribly from the outside (3-18, 16.6%) but partied in the paint, scoring 60 points compared to the Hornets’ 46. Derrick Rose kept slashing inside, and was there to bring the Bulls back whenever the fell behind. They were down at half time and managed to blow an 11 points led in the fourth quarter, trailing by four with just over a minute left on the clock.

It was more Crazy shooting from Rose that gave the Bulls the win, but Rose didn’t make much of a fuss about it – I take crazy shots like that in practice all the time, they just give me confidence to take those shots where they are looking for me. We work on that in the end of practice. I stepped back and tried to shoot the ball up as high as I could.

The best point guard in the league didn’t even play the crunch time minutes at the All-Star game. He scored very quiet 14 points, looking limited with his movement, but maybe he was just saving himself for the Bulls’ uniform, with everyone finally healthy, ready to make a Spring (which isn’t waiting around the corner from the freezing temperatures) push at the East’s top spot. Rose hasn’t been looking very MVP-ish this season, and it’s time he proves all the best point guard in the NBA talk about other guys is simply wrong.