The Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS–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 last night.
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 three-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,” Thibodeau added. “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 to go 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,” noted Jazz coach Quin Snyder.
“We had some breakdowns, a little bit of everything.”
Jae Crowder and Joe Ingles each missed a three-pointer that could have tied it for Utah.
Rose then blocked a three-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 “three” 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 lay-ups, 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 centre Rudy Gobert said.
Elsewhere in the NBA, Brooklyn edged Detroit 120-119 (OT), Denver nipped Chicago 108-107 (OT), Indiana beat New York 107-101, Golden State topped New Orleans 131-121, the L.A. Lakers shaded Dallas 114-113, San Antonio dumped Phoenix 120-90.