Derrick Rose returned to action for Chicago and immediately played 38 and a half minutes for the Bulls. He struggled mightily in these minutes. His first half was perhaps the worst half of basketball he's played all season and amongst the worst half in his career.
He piled up 29 points by the end of the night, but in the final three minutes and forty five seconds when the team failed to score, he went 0-4 from the field, 0-2 from the free throw line and committed two turnovers and used every possession the Bulls had outside of two missed free throws by Luol Deng.
Derrick Rose took the blame for the Bulls loss, as well he should, because the scoring drought at the end was a Derrick Rose drought.
That said, the Bulls were willing to drop a game to put Rose back immediately in the role that he plays for this team. They were willing to live with the bumps and bruises that a long layoff would cause. We saw the passiveness early as he tried to feel out his injury. We saw the lack of explosion later as he tried to get to the basket but wasn't all that successful in the second quarter.
We saw him find his grove in the third and early fourth period when he was finally able to knock down some shots and pick his spots. He still lacked some of his normal explosiveness, but he found ways to be effective.
This Bulls fan, and hopefully all Bulls fans, were fine with Rose going through the adjustment. Fine taking a loss in order to allow Rose to push through everything he needs to and accelerate the mental recovery he'll need to go through in order to get back to playing like an MVP caliber player.
This Bulls fan would be fine doing the same thing in regards to Rip Hamilton. Only with Hamilton, Tom Thibodeau is doing no such thing.
Lack of belief in ability or health?
Thibodeau hasn't held back on playing a single player the entire year as they return from injury. Derrick Rose, after sitting out nearly a month with an injury that can frequently be aggravated, returned to his normal minutes and role the game he was back. Luol Deng who tore a ligament in his wrist was back playing the same way he always does the game he returned.
Richard Hamilton? Well, he's playing the Keith Bogans role for the team now. He's still starting, but he's playing just 10 minutes at the beginning of the first and third and is never seen again. Initially, the Bulls appeared to have learned caution. They had learned not to rush back an injured player.
However, Hamilton's injury isn't one that's as likely to get aggravated through play, not compared to Derrick's, and Derrick went and played full minutes. That leaves one conclusion for me to draw.
Worst case, the Bulls have simply accepted 20 minutes a night as Hamilton's role and don't think he's worth playing more than that. Best case, they're giving him 20 minutes minimum and will consider extending that if he's hot. However, it doesn't look good for Hamilton. There's no benefit of the doubt like with Rose. There's no bringing him back with the other starters and letting him get some time in crunch time.
As of now, Richard Hamilton is the new Keith Bogans. A change of pace SG who's simply in the rotation. He's not a difference maker, he's not the guy who can put the Bulls over the top, and the Bulls appear done gifting him opportunities. He's been demoted, and he will only get more minutes by earning them back through solid play.