As the final buzzer sounded and his teammates swarmed him on the court, Derrick Rose couldn’t help but fight back tears.
Rose’s emotions were on full display moments after he scored a career-high 50 points in a vintage performance that lifted the Minnesota Timberwolves over the Utah Jazz 128-125 on Wednesday.
Given everything he’s been through, it was a special night for the 2011 NBA MVP.
“It still didn’t even hit me yet,” he said. “Words can’t explain how I feel right now. It’s been a while.”
Derailed by injuries for years, Rose walked off serenaded by chants of “MVP! MVP!” from the home crowd. The 30-year-old point guard shot 19 of 31 from the field and hit four 3-pointers. He played 41 minutes, his most in nearly two years.
“He has courage, he has humility and he has character,” said Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau, who also coached Rose during his prime seasons in Chicago. “He’s been through a lot of adversity. He’s maybe one of the most mentally tough people I’ve ever come across.”
Rose had 34 points in the second half and 15 in a tightly contested fourth quarter as the Wolves held off the Jazz, who waived Rose in February after a two-day stint.
His basket down low with 30 seconds remaining put Minnesota up for good, and he made two free throws with 13.8 seconds left to make it a three-point lead.
“He made a lot of plays, made some tough shots,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “We had some breakdowns, a little bit of everything.”
Jae Crowder and Joe Ingles each missed a 3-pointer that could have tied it for Utah. Rose then blocked a 3-point try by Dante Exum with 2.7 seconds to go, and the Timberwolves grabbed the loose ball to seal it.
Back in the locker room, excited teammates doused Rose in celebration.
One of his biggest shots was a corner 3 that tied the game at 119. That gave him 44 points, which matched his previous high set during the 2011 playoffs with the Bulls. His regular-season best had been 42 points.
Rose tied it at 110 with one of his patented layups, giving him 41 points. He weaved through traffic and made the off-balance shot, showing glimpses of the moves that once made him an elite player and the top pick in the 2008 draft.
“He was feeling great and when you start feeling great you get some extra energy, you get some extra adrenaline and you make amazing plays and that’s what he did the whole game,” Utah center Rudy Gobert said.
Making his first start of the season, Rose scored 19 points in the third quarter as the Timberwolves took a five-point lead into the fourth. Karl-Anthony Towns added nine of his 28 points in the period.
Donovan Mitchell scored 26 points and Gobert added 22 for Utah. Crowder provided 18 points off the bench.
Mitchell did not play in the final 4:22 because of right hamstring tightness and will be re-evaluated Thursday.
The Wolves put the Jazz on the free throw line plenty in the fourth quarter. After 11 attempts through three periods, Utah was 13 of 19 from the line in the fourth.
Minnesota played without All-Star Jimmy Butler, as well as point guards Jeff Teague and Tyus Jones. Butler sat out with what the team described as “general soreness.”
Butler, who has been the main story line in Minnesota for much of the early season due to his trade request, reportedly plans to play Friday at Golden State.
The Timberwolves got Andrew Wiggins back after he missed three games with a quadriceps injury. Wiggins had missed just one total game in his first four seasons before his recent setback. He scored 19 points on 8-of-17 shooting.
Jazz: G Alec Burks (left hand sprain) did not play. Burks also did not play Sunday at Dallas. … Utah is 4-1 on the road this season and 0-2 at home. … Gobert had his third straight game with 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds.
Timberwolves: Thibodeau said Teague underwent an MRI but was awaiting more tests. Teague is day-to-day. … Jones was a late scratch with right foot soreness he experienced during warmups. … The Wolves debuted their “Classic Edition” jerseys, a throwback to the uniforms the team wore from 1996-2008.
Jazz: Host Memphis on Friday.
Timberwolves: Visit Golden State on Friday.
Zion Williamson May Not Make NBA Debut Until 2020
When the New Orleans Pelicans won the NBA Draft Lottery, Zion Williamson became the face of their franchise before he was even selected with the first overall pick.
Williamson was the clear No. 1 pick after his incredible freshman season at Duke and we all have just been waiting in anticipation for him to hit the floor in the NBA.
Unfortunately that wait is going to extended through the new year, as the Pelicans are playing it safe with Williamson rehabbing from his knee injury.
It makes sense for New Orleans to be cautious with Williamson, as his health is the top priority for the franchise.
In his absence, the Pelicans have gotten off to a dreadful 6-17 start to their season, which makes a playoff run highly unlikely at this point.
Since the playoffs are a long shot, there is nothing to rush Williamson back for other than a Rookie of the Year race, which is of no consequence to the franchise.
Still, coming into this season, Zion was the presumptive favorite to be named the Rookie of the Year.
Now the race for Rookie of the Year is wide-open, with players like Ja Morant, RJ Barrett and Kendrick Nunn all getting buzz.
Hopefully Zion can return to the court soon, as he was already proving to be must-watch television when the Pelicans were in the preseason.
When Zion does make it back from this injury, one thing is certain. Everyone is going to be sitting at the edge of their seat, just waiting for the first explosive dunk of his NBA career.
Miami Heat Remain Undefeated at Home Behind Jimmy Butler’s Triple-Double Over the Wizards
Last season, the Miami Heat missed the playoffs by just two games, finishing with a 39-43 record.
The biggest reason for their absence in the postseason was a bad record at home, as the Heat were under .500 with a 19-22 record. Miami hoped to change that this season and set out to win more games in their building.
So far so good for the Heat, as Friday night’s victory over the Washington Wizards improved their home record to a perfect 9-0 this season.
Not only have the Heat improved on their home record from a year ago, but they are off to the best start at home in franchise history. A big reason for all that success is No. 22, as Jimmy Butler has been a breath of fresh air in Miami.
Butler gives the Heat their first real superstar since the Big Three era and he has quickly turned them into a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference.
Friday night’s performance for Butler included a game-high 28 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists for his second triple-double of the season.
Butler had his first triple double in a Heat uniform on Tuesday, when he led his team to an overtime victory over the Toronto Raptors. Butler outscored the Raptors 8-2 in that overtime period, giving Toronto their first home loss of the season.
While Butler has been great whenever he is on the floor, the biggest asset he brings to Miami is his ability to close games.
The Miami Heat moved to 16-6 with their win over the Wizards and are currently slated for the third seed in the Eastern Conference.
Whether they can continue to win at that clip is yet to be determined but two things have become clear. The Heat have found an identity behind Butler’s play and no one should want to travel to Miami right now.
Bucks Dismantle the Clippers in Potential Finals Preview to Extend Winning Streak
While the Los Angeles Lakers will certainly have something to say about it, there has been a lot of buzz surrounding a potential matchup between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA Finals.
Milwaukee has been pacing the Eastern Conference all season behind the reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, after finishing last year with an NBA-best 60-22 record.
Meanwhile the Clippers have a very deep roster full of stout defenders and a duo of two-way superstars in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
With all that being said, there was a lot of anticipation going into Friday night’s game between these two powerhouses, but the result did not quite live up to the hype.
The final score ended up being 119-91, as the Bucks just steamrolled the Clippers with ease on their home floor.
Giannis led the Bucks with a game-high 27 points and 11 rebounds, needing to play just 26 minutes of work before sitting down with the win in hand.
This game was special for Giannis for a whole different reason, as it was his 25th birthday. There is probably no better president than a blowout victory against a difficult opponent.
Especially when you are extending your team’s winning streak to an NBA-best 14 games.
This is actually not the first time that these two teams have squared off this year, as they met very early in the season.
In that game both teams entered with a 5-2 record, but the Bucks went home with the victory, beating the Clippers in a close game in the Staples Center.
With Friday’s win, that concludes the season series between these two teams. If the Bucks and Clippers are to meet again, it would have to be in the NBA Finals.
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