MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — 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 on Wednesday.
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 3-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. 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 remaining 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,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “We had some breakdowns, a little bit of everything.”
Jae Crowder and Joe Ingles each missed a 3-pointer that could have tied it for Utah. Rose then blocked a 3-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 3 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 layups, 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 center Rudy Gobert said.
Making his first start of the season, Rose scored 19 points in the third quarter as the Timberwolves took a five-point lead into the fourth. Karl-Anthony Towns added nine of his 28 points in the period.
Donovan Mitchell scored 26 points and Gobert added 22 for Utah. Crowder provided 18 points off the bench.
Mitchell did not play in the final 4:22 because of right hamstring tightness and will be re-evaluated Thursday.
The Wolves put the Jazz on the free throw line plenty in the fourth quarter. After 11 attempts through three periods, Utah was 13 of 19 from the line in the fourth.
Minnesota played without All-Star Jimmy Butler, as well as point guards Jeff Teague and Tyus Jones. Butler sat out with what the team described as “general soreness.”
Butler, who has been the main story line in Minnesota for much of the early season due to his trade request, reportedly plans to play Friday at Golden State.
The Timberwolves got Andrew Wiggins back after he missed three games with a quadriceps injury. Wiggins had missed just one total game in his first four seasons before his recent setback. He scored 19 points on 8-of-17 shooting.
Jazz: G Alec Burks (left hand sprain) did not play. Burks also did not play Sunday at Dallas. … Utah is 4-1 on the road this season and 0-2 at home. … Gobert had his third straight game with 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds.
Timberwolves: Thibodeau said Teague underwent an MRI but was awaiting more tests. Teague is day-to-day. … Jones was a late scratch with right foot soreness he experienced during warmups. … The Wolves debuted their “Classic Edition” jerseys, a throwback to the uniforms the team wore from 1996-2008.
Jazz: Host Memphis on Friday.
Timberwolves: Visit Golden State on Friday.