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Bulls welcome NBA MVP Rose with win


CHICAGO, Illinois, January 24 – NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah returned from injury to guide the Chicago Bulls to an emphatic 110-95 victory over the New Jersey Nets.

Rose, who had missed four games with a sprained left big toe, scored 22 points with eight assists.

Noah, who missed one game with a left ankle sprain, posted a “double-double” of 22 points and 10 assists as all five Chicago starters scored in double figures.

That helped Chicago overcome the absence of Britain’s Luol Deng, who is seeking further medical opinions in the hope he can avoid surgery on his injured left wrist.

Rose showed little rust, but said he expects to deal with his toe injury the entire season.

“It’s never going to be right this year,” said Rose, although he said the swelling had subsided and he wore special inserts in his shoes to alleviate discomfort. “It’s just something I have to play through.”

Rose admitted it was almost as painful sitting on the bench.

Meanwhile, Paul Pierce scored 19 points and handed out seven assists to lead the Celtics to an 87-56 victory over Orlando in Boston, the Celtics’ first win over a winning team in this lockout-shortened NBA season.

The Celtics overcame a host of injury absences, including starting guards Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen.

Rondo missed his third straight game with a sprained right wrist, while Allen hurt his left ankle in a win over Washington Sunday.

The Celtics were also without French forward Mickael Pietrus — who is nursing a shoulder injury — guard Keyon Dooling and center Chris Wilcox.

Brandon Bass helped fill the void, delivering 19 points off the bench, and veteran Kevin Garnett chipped in 14 points with 10 rebounds for the Celtics, who had been 0-6 this season against teams with winning records.

Dwight Howard led Orlando with 18 points and 14 rebounds, but no other Magic player scored in double figures.

Howard came into the contest needing 26 points to surpass Nick Anderson as the Magic’s all-time leading scorer but was limited to 18 on 4-of-15 shooting.

His struggles were emblematic of the Magic’s shooting troubles. Orlando shot just 24.6 percent from the floor en route to a club record for fewest points in a game.

“I hate sitting out,” Rose said. “I know we were winning. I can’t complain. But it’s kind of boring not playing.”

Deng, who had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right wrist that brought his rookie season to a premature end, was at the arena.

He missed a game for the first time since March 30, 2010, after playing in all 82 of Chicago’s contests last season.

“We’re disappointed that he’s injured because he’s put so much work into it,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “You can’t say enough about what he brings to the team in all areas. You start with his leadership and toughness. He’s our best defender. He guards multiple positions. He plays to win.”