For a man who had elected not to talk, Derrick Rose’s play had said everything he needed to say.

The much scrutinized and oft-injured Chicago Bulls star burned the Detroit Pistons for 24 points and seven assists in the team’s 102-91 Monday night win and afterward left the locker room without saying a word to reporters.

That’s where the former MVP’s teammates finally took over. Rose had missed four of the team’s last five games with ankle sprains, not to mention nearly the last two full seasons with knee injuries. On this night, his teammates wanted to remind him just how much his return is welcomed.

“Derrick’s a hell of a player,” Joakim Noah said of his return. “It means having your best player on the court, our floor general. It means a lot. When he’s out on the court, he demands so much attention and it opens up a lot of easy opportunities for everybody else.”

Added coach Tom Thibodeau “the first half I thought he was great. It set the tone for us. And then certainly the way he finished was great. A little winded; that’s to be expected.”

The win over the Pistons marked the first time this season the Bulls starting lineup of Rose, Noah, Jimmy Butler, Pau Gasol and Mike Dunleavy have been able to play together.

“It’s great to have him on the floor because he’s a difference-maker,” raved Gasol. “He’s very explosive, gets to the hole, he’s a key player for us.”

[Photo Credit: Keith Ellison]