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Rose still playing winning role for Wolves, even without scoring

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Derrick Rose (25) jumps to block a shot from Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14) during the second quarter Wednesday, Dec. 5, at Target Center. Harrison Barden / USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS -- Derrick Rose recognized early in the Timberwolves’ game Monday, Dec. 3, against Houston that it wasn’t going to be a big scoring night for him.

The Rockets were blitzing the Wolves point guard — sending two defenders at him hard off screens — plus double-teaming him in certain spots and denying him the ball.

Suddenly, scoring was low on his list of priorities.

“That’s the first thing that came to my mind, all right, I see how they’re playing me, they thought if they could stop me they could win the game,” Rose said. “I saw what they were doing, and if they’re looking at me or paying attention to me like that, then someone’s open on the court.”

Rose was quick to pass all night, looking to find open teammates. It’s exactly what Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau wants his players to do when they’re doubled. When there’s two on the ball, Thibodeau insists, it should be easy offense for Minnesota.

“Derrick didn’t force anything,” Thibodeau said. “He wasn’t holding on to it and trying to split the trap or trying to score through the trap. He just moved it and made a simple play. When you do that, the game is easy. Anytime there’s two on the ball, everyone should be excited about it.”

Rose seemed to get a kick out of the extra defensive attention. “When a team game plans to stop (someone), especially a bench player, something is up,” the former MVP noted with a smile. In a sense, it was a nod from Houston to Rose’s early-season offensive resurgence. The veteran guard said receiving that type of attention again “always makes you feel good” as a player and gives you confidence. He also said it shows the Timberwolves’ depth.

Because of Houston’s scheme, Rose took just four shots and didn’t score for the first time all season, knocking his scoring average down 18.4 points per game. That’s fine with him.

“We won, the locker room was great, and that’s what I like seeing — KAT (Karl-Anthony Towns), everybody celebrating,” Rose said. “I’m in there for the team.”

Rose said he’s not the type of player to force shots or look for his stats during games. He’s looking to do what will make the game easy for his teammates. Sometimes, that involves him looking to score, but that wasn’t the case Monday.

Rose has scored plenty of points and piled up individual accolades, but he swears that’s not what he wants to be remembered by.

“I want to be remembered as a winner,” Rose said. “No matter if I had a lot of points or if I didn’t score, I want to affect the game in some way.”

That’s how those around the team feel about him. Thibodeau said Rose plays with “no agenda other than winning.”

“He’s been playing tremendous all year, shooting the ball at a very high clip,” reserve guard Tyus Jones said. “But all he wants to do is win. He could care less about how many shots he takes. You won’t hear him say one thing about only taking four shots. … He was just making the right play, trying to help this team win.

“That says a lot about him, but it says a lot about everybody in this locker room. That’s what we’re trying to build on, just doing everything it takes to win, and it’s working for us right now.”