Rose and the Bulls look to win three straight games for the second time this season Monday when they host Evans and a Kings team trying to win two straight on the road for the first time in two seasons.
Rose led the Tigers to the 2008 NCAA tournament title game and was selected first overall by Chicago that summer. He was the NBA’s second highest-scoring rookie with 16.8 points per game and led all first-year players in assists (6.3) en route to being named the league’s top rookie.
Evans, who took over at Memphis following Rose’s departure and helped the Tigers reach the round of 16 in 2009, has made an early push for this season’s rookie honors after being selected fourth overall. He is ranked second among NBA rookies in points per game (20.0) and assists (5.1).
This will be the second matchup between the two. While Evans outscored Rose — still working his way back from a preseason ankle injury—20-10, Rose did have seven assists in Chicago’s 101-87 win at Sacramento on Nov. 17.
This time around, Rose is playing some of his best basketball of the season, averaging 21.6 points and 6.1 assists over his last seven games. He scored a career-high 32 points and played through a strained rib cage muscle Saturday when Chicago (10-15) rallied from a 14-point deficit to beat Atlanta 101-98 in overtime.
“My ankle’s better,” Rose said. “That’s really it.”
The Bulls last won three straight from Nov. 3-7. They also have won three in a row overall against Sacramento (12-14).
While Chicago is looking to close out its six-game homestand with its third straight victory at the United Center over the Kings, Sacramento (12-14) is trying to win back-to-back road games for the first time since March 30 and April 5, 2008.
Evans led the Kings with 24 points, including a reverse layup with 0.9 seconds left, as Sacramento defeated Milwaukee 96-95 on Saturday to snap an eight-game road losing streak.
“Coach (Paul Westphal) told me it was my time to go out and make a play, and I did it,” said Evans, who scored the game-winning field goal after fellow rookie of the year candidate Brandon Jennings(notes) found Ersan Ilyasova(notes) to give Milwaukee a 95-94 lead with five seconds left.
“We didn’t feed into the ‘Rookie of the Year’ thing,” Evans said after Sacramento improved to 2-11 on the road. “We just went out there and played basketball.”
Kings forward Andres Nocioni(notes), who missed the Nov. 17 loss to the Bulls with a right hip pointer, will play his first game at the United Center since being acquired from Chicago in February. Nocioni averaged 11.7 points and 5.0 boards for Chicago from 2004-09.