It took him 31 minutes to throw up 32 points last night but Derrick Rose is clearly back to normal.

The Chicago Bulls star guard who sat out last season with that torn ACL of his has been doing work in the preseason, including last night’s 103-98 win over the Indiana Pacers. The victory over the Pacers came with a bit of chippiness to it as Rose made note in an ESPN interview that the squad on South Beach that currently owns the last two Larry O’Brien trophies were a more true “rival” than the Pacers.

Thus, playoff basketball was in the air for a game that did nothing to affect either team’s chances come regular season time. All it was for Rose was a clear exhibition that he trusts his knee as well as his teammates as he dished out 9 assists and knocked down 4 of 7 treys. Unless Jimmy Butler makes the leap at two-guard, Coach Thibodeau finally (!) learns how to manage minutes over the course of an 82-game season and Luol Deng remains healthy enough through the course of the season then Chicago might find itself in the same problematic hole it had a couple of seasons ago when they met the Heat in the East finals.

But that’s a conversation better served for May or June. For now, it’s good to see the hometown kid etch his name back into those way too early to predict MVP talks.

Photo Credit: USA Today