U.S. center Andre Drummond, rear, defends Dominican Republic center Jack Michael Martinez during the first half of an exhibition basketball game Wednesday at Madison Square Garden in New York. (Kathy Willens/Associated Press)
New York — Derrick Rose heard the fans chanting his name, and yes, he would've loved to give them what they wanted.
But after missing most of the past two years and with still a long summer of basketball ahead, he's willing to take this return slowly.
"Just trying to protect myself, just knowing that this is a long, long schedule and this is the most basketball I'll be playing in two years," Rose said. "I want to be out there, but at the same time my health is the No. 1 issue right now."
With Rose sitting out, Kyrie Irving started and made all five shots, scoring 12 points as the U.S. national basketball team beat the Dominican Republic 105-62 on Wednesday night in an exhibition game.
James Harden also scored 12 in limited playing time for the Americans, who used their subs for most of the second half. Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan each scored 13 points.
Rose and U.S. assistant Tom Thibodeau, Rose's coach with the Chicago Bulls, both said he was experiencing general soreness, though Rose was quick to point out it was nothing related to his multiple knee surgeries.
Rose's absence allowed U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski to take a longer look at other players with cuts coming soon. The Americans have 16 players on the roster and have to get down to 12 before the upcoming Basketball World Cup.
Andre Drummond finished with 12 points for the Americans, who shot 58 percent.
Chandler Parsons, Kyle Korver and Mason Plumlee were the only Americans who didn't play.
The teams will meet again in Bilbao, Spain, where they are both in Group C.
The Americans leave Saturday for Spain, where they will finish their preparations with a final exhibition against Slovenia. The World Cup opens on Aug. 30.