NEW YORK (AFP) - The Chicago Bulls welcomed former NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose back from injury on Wednesday with a convincing 104-80 win over the New York Knicks.
The return of Rose and the addition of Spanish veteran Pau Gasol have branded the Bulls as Eastern Conference contenders in 2014-15, and they looked the part at Madison Square Garden.
"I wouldn't say my rust is knocked off, but it's getting there," said Rose, who missed the final 71 games of last season with a torn meniscus after missing all of the previous campaign recovering from a torn knee ligament.
"I can't be content with how I'm performing," he added. "I have to put it behind me whether it's good or bad and make sure I stay consistent with my workouts. Physically, I feel good."
Both Rose and Gasol made key contributions. Rose - the 2011 NBA MVP - scored 13 points with five assists in his long awaited regular-season return and off-season acquisition Gasol putting up 21 points with 11 rebounds.
Taj Gibson scored 22 points in 28 minutes off the bench for the Bulls, who connected on better than 50 per cent of their shots from the field and effectively smothered the Knicks offence.
In all the Bulls received 55 points from their reserves, with Aaron Brooks netting 13 and 2014 first-round draft pick Doug McDermott scoring 12 in his NBA debut.
For New York, it was a disappointing start to the head coaching tenure of Derek Fisher, the former player drafted to implement the Phil Jackson triangle offence.
Carmelo Anthony was held to 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting and the Knicks finished a lacklustre 3-for-17 from three-point range.
Amare Stoudemire was New York's only other player to score in double figures, with 12 points to go with his eight rebounds.