The Timberwolves held Jimmy Butler out of their Halloween home game against the Utah Jazz, for honestly who knows what reason. Shams says it’s part of “a six-week-long process aimed at getting the All-Star out of Minnesota.” Woj says it was for rest. Either way, the Jazz are tough customers, and sitting Butler seemed like waving the white flag. And then Derrick Rose—Derrick Rose!—took 31 shots and scored 50 points, and blocked Dante Exum’s potential game-tying three in the final seconds, and the Timberwolves got by far their best win of this young season:
Fifty points is a new career-high for Rose. It seems insane to me that Rose never had a 50-point game back when he was good, but it turns out he never topped 30 during the regular season his rookie year, and had eight 30-point games in his sophomore season, and had his first and only two 40-point regular season games as a Bull during his MVP third season. But now, in his age-30 season, now that he’s genuinely bad, he finally hit the 50-point mark in a game. And in a win! After it was over, Rose was pretty emotional:
“All the stuff that he’s been through” is doing a lot of work, there. Jim Petersen drowns pitifully in equivocation while trying to acknowledge that Rose was credibly accused of participating in a gang rape. You can sense the impulse to frame this as a redemption narrative smashing awkwardly up against the reality that Rose is a creep who told a courtroom that he interpreted consent from a text message sent 17 hours before the alleged rape. Probably the right way to talk about Rose’s big night is to stay as far away from framing it as an inspirational moment as possible.
In basketball terms, Rose did go from being named the 2011 MVP to, well, what he is today, which is a broken-down and prematurely washed-up shell of his former self. Tonight’s output should not confuse you into thinking Rose is good again—headed into tonight’s game Rose was shooting a putrid 39 percent from the floor, and 26 percent from the arc, and producing an awful minus-13 net rating in more than 28 minutes per game. Those numbers are worse, generally, than what he’s produced per year since the first knee injury, but not by much, and the only smart bet is that Rose will settle once again into another year of below-average efficiency.
Butler has missed two games so far this season, and in both instances Rose went on to lead the Wolves in shot attempts. I’m not sure exactly what that means about Tom Thibodeau’s offense, but as habits go it surely isn’t a healthy one. There’s a solid chance Thibs is just more comfortable with the distribution of shots tilting toward a ball-stopping isolation guard, even one as streaky as Rose, and even with as preternaturally gifted a scorer as Towns out there for 40 minutes. Tonight it worked. What the hell. Clearly the Timberwolves do not need Jimmy Butler anymore. Trade that man.