The people of Memphis probably aren’t surprised.
Rose will make his return to the city where he starred in college on Friday, when either the Bulls or Memphis Grizzlies will win their third straight game for the first time this season.
The star point guard and Chicago native spent only one season at the University of Memphis, but he made quite an impact, as he averaged 14.9 points, 4.7 assists and 4.5 rebounds while leading the Tigers to a 38-2 record.
They were less than three seconds away from winning the national championship game, but a late Kansas 3-pointer sent the game to overtime, and the Jayhawks - including Grizzlies forward Darrell Arthur - eventually stole the title.
Rose hasn’t missed a beat transitioning to the NBA, quickly emerging as a front-runner for the Rookie of the Year award by averaging 18.3 points and 6.1 assists. Despite playing with 10 stitches in his forearm following an accident with a knife at his home, he scored 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting and added seven assists in the Bulls’ 105-100 win over the New York Knicks on Tuesday.
Drew Gooden added 22 points and 16 rebounds, leading the Bulls (10-11) to consecutive wins for only the second time during their up-and-down start. Still, coach Vinny Del Negro wasn’t happy with his team’s play, as Chicago gave up 100 points for the eighth time in 11 games.
“We are not getting enough stops during the game,” Del Negro said. “We need defensive stands to take control of the game. There is a lot of work to be done.”
The Bulls have had even bigger problems on the road, allowing 103.8 points per game while going 3-8. They have only won once in Memphis, losing six of seven there since the Grizzlies moved from Vancouver.
Coming off consecutive 60-loss seasons, the Grizzlies (7-15) are off to an even tougher start than Chicago, but they have shown signs of improvement lately in winning three of four.
Memphis hadn’t won back-to-back games before Wednesday, but Rudy Gay had 22 points and Mike Conley scored 14 of his 16 during the team’s fourth-quarter comeback in a 108-102 victory at Oklahoma City. The team had won its previous game, 109-97 over Houston on Monday.
The Grizzlies trailed the Thunder by as many as 21 in the first half, but they came back behind a crunch-time lineup that consisted of four reserves alongside Gay. Conley, Marc Gasol, Quinton Ross and Greg Buckner helped finish off the win.
“It’s all about energy and it’s what you feel out there, and the guys on this team are mature enough to understand that I’m not keeping people off the court necessarily as I am keeping people on the court,” coach Marc Iavaroni said.
“That’s what keeps people on the court: playing hard and smart together. And I’ll ride it as long as I can until it needs a change.”
O.J. Mayo didn’t play in the fourth quarter, but he had 18 points in 27 minutes, extending his streak to 22 straight games in double digits to start his career. He’s the only rookie who has scored more points than Rose, averaging 20.8.