By ALAN FERGUSON
(AP) -- Derrick Rose's aggressive play has helped the Chicago Bulls to their best start since their most recent championship season. He might not have much trouble keeping that energy going in the next game.
The reigning league MVP should receive an enthusiastic reception as the Bulls take on the Memphis Grizzlies in their home opener Sunday night.
Rose got off to an uneven start to this lockout-shortened campaign as he scored 22 points in a thrilling win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas Day, then struggled during a loss at Golden State the next evening with 13 points on 4-of-17 shooting.
The point guard bounced back to hit 53.6 percent of his shots in the final two games of a season-opening road trip and had his best performance of the season while spoiling the new-look Los Angeles Clippers' home opener Friday.
Rose had 29 points, 16 assists - one shy of tying his career high - and eight rebounds during a 114-101 victory. The effort help the Bulls finish off their trip with back-to-back victories and improve to 3-1 for the first time since 1997-98.
"The last two games he's been very, very aggressive and our team has played with a lot of force offensively," coach Tom Thibodeau said.
Rose will try to continue those efforts while helping his team win a fourth consecutive home opener and post a third straight victory over the Grizzlies (1-2), which would mark the longest streak in the series since the Bulls claimed the first seven meetings. Chicago swept Memphis last season for the first time since 2004-05.
"We have a lot of confidence, but we still need to go out there and play hard. It's not going to be easy game. They're a hard-working team," Rose said.
Rose recorded his only career triple-double during a 96-84 win in Memphis on Jan. 17, and scored a team-best 24 points during a 99-96 win at the United Center on March 25.
Luol Deng was also instrumental in those victories, averaging 25.5 points on 61.3 percent shooting. He enters this contest scoring 18.5 points per game, just off his career best-average of 18.8 from 2006-07.
Deng and the Bulls will face a Grizzlies team coming off its first win of the season, a 113-93 rout of Houston on Friday. Zach Randolph led the way with 23 points on 11-of-14 shooting but impressed coach Lionel Hollins just as much with his defense.
"That's what I'm trying to focus on, just better D, helping my guys out and being in the right position," Randolph said. "Defense wins games. I know I can score with the best of them, and rebound with the best of them. (Working) on defense there's going to be a trickle-down effect."
Marc Gasol added 20 points for Memphis, which had averaged 88.5 points over its first two games. The Grizzlies had six players in double figures, including Chicago native Jeremy Pargo. The rookie, brother of former Bulls guard Jannero Pargo, had 14 points while starting in place of Mike Conley, who is dealing with a sprained ankle.
Memphis might need Pargo's help to end its losing streak to Chicago. The Grizzlies averaged 90.0 points over the two matchups in 2010-11, their second-lowest mark against any opponent last season ahead of only the 86.0 per game against Orlando.
Updated December 31, 2011