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 scored 12 points as the U.S. basketball team beat the Dominican Republic, coached by USF's Orlando Antigua, 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.
Rose and U.S. assistant Tom Thibodeau, Rose's coach with the Chicago Bulls, 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 World Cup, which begins Aug. 30.
"When we do eventually make decisions on the 12, it will be very, very difficult," Krzyzewski said.
Fans chanted loudly in the third quarter for Rose to get into this one, but Krzyzewski decided shortly before tip the Chicago Bulls star wouldn't play.
Houston Rockets forward Francisco Garcia scored 14 points for the Dominican Republic. The Dominicans are without their best player, the Atlanta Hawks' Al Horford, a former Gator, who is recovering from a torn right pectoral muscle.
Karl Towns played 10 minutes for the Dominicans, though he won't accompany them to the World Cup as the highly touted freshman heads to Kentucky. The team shot 34 percent.
"Would've liked to shot the ball a lot better, but I thought we did a lot of good things throughout the game. We showed some good points," Antigua said.
The teams will meet again in the World Cup in Bilbao, Spain, where both are in Group C.