Is this a new beginning for Derrick Rose?

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MARCH 11: Derrick Rose #25 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MARCH 11: Derrick Rose #25 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

Sunday night against Houston marked Derrick Rose‘s best game in Timberwolves colors, but what does that mean for his future in Minnesota?

He may be the most polarizing signing the Minnesota Timberwolves have made this decade. And with his first impactful game since he arrived, the Derrick Rose fanbase vs. Timberwolves fanbase fiasco figures to continue raging on.

The Wolves fell on Sunday night by a score of 129-120 to a Houston Rockets team that used a 21-point halftime lead to springboard themselves into a victory, despite a great second half fight back by the Timberwolves.

The past-his-prime Rose has been torn to shreds by just about every Twin Cities basketball media outlet and Wolves blog – including this one – but he was instrumental in the second half push in front of a booming Target Center crowd.

The 2010-11 Most Valuable Player finished with 14 points (6-11 FG) and three assists in his 19 minutes, and it’s notable that the Wolves were outscored by just one point with Rose in the game, even though they never got closer than five points throughout the final three quarters.

One of the major keys to the effective night for the 29-year-old was his reluctance to jack up long jump shots, instead opting for strong drives and nifty cuts to get his buckets.

Let’s quickly breakdown each of those baskets and dive into exactly why this version of the man formerly known as the Windy City Assassin is the only version that might work during the playoff run.

After bricking a careless mid-range jumper to start off his evening, Rose quickly went back to his only real strength – attacking in transition. He walls-up and forces the miss surprisingly well against a lumbering Ryan Anderson to kick off the fast break, before slithering to the rim for the layup.

Once again, Rose pulls up for a long two on his next scoring opportunity. Shots like this need to be permanently exterminated from the point guard’s game — and probably the Timberwolves offensive game plan in general.

After he got the ill-advised jumpers out of the way, Rose went back to attack mode. He smartly slices through some effortless James Harden defense here to score his second field goal on the night.

These transition or defensive-lapse situations should be the only time coach Thibodeau welcomes D-Rose isolation opportunities, although there is a fairly big inkling that Thibs may have him on a longer leash than we hope for.

In his longer second half stint, Rose was the type of player the Timberwolves will need night-in and night-out. He started off with a sneaky cut while Jamal Crawford was in showtime mode, finishing on the layup after J-Crossover shot a bullet pass into his hands.

He missed this next bunny, which we can’t say for sure that he won’t do again, but again the movement away from the ball to slide into the ‘dunker’s spot’ and receive the pass is something we see far too little of from the other Timberwolves guards and wings.

Rose makes another great dive to the rim in this next play, allowing him to box out his man and put back the easy deuce when Gorgui Dieng clanks the shot.

This is exactly the type of off-ball, rim-running Derrick Rose that can actually help an NBA team; the isolation-heavy style that he has adopted just doesn’t work consistently enough anymore. He did have it going on Sunday however, so this square-up and drive on Chris Paul (is it 2010?) can be forgiven.

The night culminated in a bang for the three-time All-Star, as he hammered a very rare dunk to close out his night. The jam came after another brilliant cut towards the rim to provide a passing option for Jeff Teague, who was caught mid-air.

Now that’s a blast from the past.

If this were to be a real change in Rose’s game, then this is a big development. A cutting, off-ball-moving former MVP could be a bonus to a Minnesota bench that struggles mightily to provide solid offense.

Of course, it could just be (and is perhaps likely to be) an outlier. It will be interesting

Next: On the Timberwolves balanced, Butler-less offense

to watch how he operates in massive tile Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers. Stay tuned.