Chicago Sun-Times

November 2010 Archives

Boozer status for Wednesday still uncertain

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Carlos Boozer practiced for a second straight day without issue, but wasn't ready to say he would play Wednesday when the Bulls host the Orlando Magic at the United Center.

"It felt pretty good today," Boozer said. "Still a little sore. I may or may not play [Wednesday], but I'm hoping this week or this weekend."

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, though, sounded as if he expected Boozer to be in the lineup barring any 11th-hour setbacks.

"He's not having any problems," Thibodeau said. "As long as he's comfortable, we're ready to get started.

"He looked good. He said he didn't have any problems from [Monday]. I think his conditioning's really good and he did a really god job in practice."

Taj Gibson, who's been starting in Boozer's absence, also practiced Tuesday after sitting Monday to rest his lingering right foot/ankle issues. Gibson should play against the Magic.

Boozer fine after first practice

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Carlos Boozer participated in the Bulls' full practice on Monday and it's looking more and more like the power forward will see his first game action Wednesday when the Bulls host the Orlando Magic at the United Center.

"I'm doing good," Boozer said afterward. "I thought I had a pretty good day of practice, my hand felt good and it's getting better and better. That's all I can hope for.
"A couple of times it got hit, which is good to find out how it felt after getting hit. [It was] a little sore, but overall I thought it was a good day."

Boozer, who had surgery to repair a broken right hand on Oct. 5, has been medically cleared, so the decision of when he plays in a game is his.

"When my hand's ready," he said of when he'll see game action. "It'll be my decision."

Circus-trip finale leftovers

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Before heading back to Chicago -- finally! -- I thought I'd empty my notebook and post some quotes before and after the Bulls' 96-85 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau on Derrick Rose playing 42 minutes and scoring 30 points after missing a game Friday in Denver with a stiff neck.

"When I saw him walking around, he looked a lot better [Saturday] and he said he felt a lot better. After he warmed up, I asked him again and he said he felt great, so I wasn't really concerned about it."

Thibodeau on rallying despite playing for the fourth time in five nights:

"In the NBA, you can find something every night whether it's back-to-back, four-in-five, on the road, home and home, home and away, whatever it might be, injuries. What you would like is to have the mental toughness and the belief that you can win under any circumstances. If you're doing the right things, you should have a chance to win."

Thibs on C.J. Watson, who had to leave the game in the fourth after dislocating a finger on his left hand:

"He actually could have gone back in the game, but the way the game was going, I just didn't want to take any chances with that."

Thibs on second half defensive surge:

"In the second half, it was hard to judge anything we were doing defensively because the intensity wasn't there and our technique wasn't there. In the second half, once the intensity picked up and the technique picked up, it was better.

"In the first half, we did a lot of double-teaming and they only had two turnovers. That tells you a lot about your pressure. I didn't think our pressure was good enough in the first half. The thing that bothered us, they were getting an assist off the first pass."

"We were searching for energy and a lot of guys stepped in."

Rose on whether his neck bothered him:

"Only on certain moves, like me going to the basket. Other than that, it felt good."

Thibodeau defending his decision to play John Lucas at the end of Friday's game in Denver:

"The big thing was I know John is capable of inbounding the ball because he fulfilled that role for us in Houston. So the first thing is, who can inbound the ball and get the ball in cleanly, so I'm confident in his ability to do that.

"And then, you base your decisions on the players you have available at that particular time. John actually was in C.J.'s position, C.J. was in Derrick's position and then Kyle was the guy, obviously, we're trying to get the ball to.

"Once the ball comes in, there's 24 seconds [on the clock], so you knew they were gonna trap and not foul right away. Then you have to get into your alignment and the ball has to move.

"In those situations, John's an excellent free-throw shooter, so I'm confident in his ability to make those. I've seen him make big free throws before. It didn't work out [Friday] night, but it will the next time."

Rose will try to play tonight vs. Kings

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Derrick Rose's stiff neck has loosened up and the point guard try to play tonight in the finale of the Bulls' seven-game road trip against the Sacramento Kings.

Rose out tonight with stiff neck

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DENVER -- Derrick Rose won't play tonight when the Bulls face the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center because of a stiff neck.

Rose said his condition improved slightly after receiving treatment all day, but it still wasn't enough to allow him to play.

The Bulls conclude the seven-game road trip Saturday night at Sacramento. Rose isn't sure what his status will be for that game.

"It's still too early to tell about tomorrow," he said. "I don't know where it came from. Probably sleeping or changing beds."

C.J. Watson will start at point guard. The Bulls signed John Lucas III this afternoon and he arrived at the Pepsi Center a little more than two hours before game-time. He will be in uniform tonight and coach Tom Thibodeau said he has no reservations about playing him.

With Rose injured, Bulls add Lucas

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DENVER -- With Derrick Rose questionable for tonight's game with the Denver Nuggets and with only one other point guard on the roster, the Bulls signed John Lucas III to a contract this afternoon.

Lucas, one of the team's final cuts in training camp, is en route to the Pepsi Center and is expected to be in uniform tonight.

Rose is battling a stiff neck and could barely move his head this morning when talking to reporters at the shootaround. If he can't play, C.J. Watson would start in his place.

The Bulls' roster now stands at 14, one under the NBA limit.

Rose questionable for tonight with stiff neck

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DENVER -- Derrick Rose is battling a stiff neck and is questionable for tonight's game with the Denver Nuggets.

Rose said he will spend the day getting treatment and a massage, but if his neck doesn't loose up the chances of him playing would appear to be remote.

"I can't look a certain way without turning my body," Rose said before the Bulls' shootaround at the Pepsi Center. "It's kind of irritating. It's like my first real neck injury in a long time. I think my last one was in high school."

Rose said his neck starting bothering him a little before Wednesday night's game in Phoenix, but he didn't think much of it. However, after playing 50 minutes in the Bulls' double-overtime win, Rose said his neck stiffened up after the game.

It was so bad Rose said he left the team's Thanksgiving dinner early on Thursday. He arrived at the Pepsi Center with a heating pad on his neck.

"You know when you're about to get a neck cramp, you can just feel it a little bit," Rose said. "It just tightened up after the game. Every since then, it's been tight."

If Rose can't play, coach Tom Thibodeau said C.J. Watson will start at point guard. The Bulls will treat Rose and hope the situation improves.

"We'll see how it goes during the day if he can go tonight," Thibodeau said. "We'll take a look at it tonight."

Rose questionable for tonight with stiff neck

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DENVER -- Derrick Rose is battling a stiff neck and is questionable for tonight's game with the Denver Nuggets.

Rose said he will spend the day getting treatment and a massage, but if his neck doesn't loose up the chances of him playing would appear to be remote.

"I can't look a certain way without turning my body," Rose said before the Bulls' shootaround at the Pepsi Center. "It's kind of irritating. It's like my first real neck injury in a long time. I think my last one was in high school."

Rose said his neck starting bothering him a little before Wednesday night's game in Phoenix, but he didn't think much of it. However, after playing 50 minutes in the Bulls' double-overtime win, Rose said his neck stiffened up after the game.

It was so bad Rose said he left the team's Thanksgiving dinner early on Thursday. He arrived at the Pepsi Center with a heating pad on his neck.

"You know when you're about to get a neck cramp, you can just feel it a little bit," Rose said. "It just tightened up after the game. Every since then, it's been tight."

If Rose can't play, coach Tom Thibodeau said C.J. Watson will start at point guard. The Bulls will treat Rose and hope the situation improves.

"We'll see how it goes during the day if he can go tonight," Thibodeau said. "We'll take a look at it tonight."

Bulls rally for double OT victory in Phoenix

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PHOENIX -- Where do you begin in describing the Bulls' 123-115 double overtime victory over the Phoenix Suns Wednesday night at the US Airways Center?

There were more storylines and plots than a week of episodes of a soap opera and more big plays than a month's worth of "SportsCenters."

Perhaps the best place to start is Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau's description of his team following the marathon effort where the Bulls rallied from 23 points down in the second quarter and survived a slew of bad calls to prevail.

"This is our team," Thibodeau said. "There's no quit in them. They'll keep fighting and the challenge for us is every day we want to continue to improve.

"I think we're learning how to win. We're not there, we still have a lot of work to do, but I think we're heading in the right direction."

No one can argue that point. By winning for the third time in five games on the usually crippling circus trip, the Bulls (8-5) have simply found ways to win - regardless of whether they're having a good night, a bad night or whatever.

"We're the type of team, we're grinders and we're never gonna stop," said Derrick Rose, who led the way with a game-high 35 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in 50 minutes before fouling out on a dubious call.

"We can be down 20 points, 30 points. We never want to be in that situation, but if we're forced to be in that situation by the way we're playing, we're gonna come back."

They certainly were in that situation Wednesday.

To put it mildly, the start of the game couldn't have been any worse for the Bulls. They were late arriving at the arena because of a walkthrough at the team hotel - and they were late arriving (at least mentally) for the game.

Rose appeared to score the Bulls' first basket with a three-pointer as the shot clock was running out, but that basket was taken away during the first timeout when the officiating crew ruled that he didn't get the shot off in time.

With that basket off the board, the Bulls were down 29-8 less than nine minutes into the game.

Phoenix (7-8) featured a collapsing defense to cut off Rose from driving to the basket and no one could hit a perimeter jumper to exploit the weakness of that defensive scheme.

Defensively, the Bulls were just slow at the start - slow to get back on defense and slow to get react when the Suns made an offensive move.

The Suns were up 36-17 at the end of the first quarter and things weren't much better at the start of the second quarter.

After getting burned by Shannon Brown (who played briefly with the Bulls three years ago) on Tuesday, former Bull Hakim Warrick came off the bench to score all 23 of his points in the first half for the Suns.

Warrick was with the Bulls for the final two months of last season and the playoffs and struggled to finish around the rim. But that wasn't an issue on Wednesday as Warrick scored on a variety of power moves and mid-range jumpers.

The Bulls actually began the comeback in the second half of the second quarter. James Johnson (12 points, five rebounds, two steals and two blocks in 23 minutes) provided a huge spark off the bench and Kyle Korver (season-high 24 points) and Luol Deng (26) finally started hitting some shots.

Still, the Bulls were still down with under nine minutes left in the fourth quarter.

But the Bulls kept chipping away. Johnson had a big three-pointer and a dunk on the fast break and center Joakin Noah stole the ball from Suns point guard Steve Nash to set up Johnson's dunk. Rose then tied the game with a pair of free throws with 14.7 seconds left to force OT.

In the first OT, the Bulls went scoreless for nearly 2½ minutes and they trailed by three points with 12 seconds left. But Noah found Rose on a nice back-door play to tie the score at 111 with one-tenth of a second left.

Rose converted a three-point play on the first possession of the second overtime to put the Bulls on top for good. Following a Phoenix basket, Rose hit a 20-footer to restore the three-point lead and then Deng hit an 18-footer - with most of the bench screaming for him not to shoot after holding the ball - to make it 118-113 with 2:21 remaining.

The only tense moment for the Bulls the rest of the way came when Rose fouled out with 1:38 to go. But they survived that as well.

"It's a horrible feeling to be in that situation like that, where you're fighting and they're hitting three after three," Rose said. "They're gonna live or die by the three and I told my guys keeping fighting. I told the guys in overtime don't let them shoot any threes and if they do contest them."

Gibson out with ankle injury

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PHOENIX -- Bulls forward Taj Gibson was a last minute scratch from tonight's game with the Phoenix Suns with what is described as a right ankle injury.

Gibson had been bothered since Sunday with what was described as a pinched nerve on the outside of his right foot. After sitting out practice Sunday and Monday, Gibson played 40 minutes Tuesday against the Los Angeles Lakers.

About an hour before the game, coach Tom Thibodeau said Gibson was the same as Tuesday, but then word came about 25 minutes before tip-off that Gibson was a no go with the ankle injury.

Against the smallish Suns, Thibodeau opted to go small with Ronnie Brewer moving into the starting lineup at small forward with Luol Deng shifting to power forward.

Thoughts on Bulls' loss to Lakers on Tuesday

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The Bulls again put up a good fight in a 98-91 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night at the Staples Center, but they just didn't make enough plays down the stretch to beat a really good team on its home court.

The Bulls also didn't make enough shots. They shot 39.5 percent overall and made just four of 20 three-point attempts. Aside from Derrick Rose (2-for-5) the rest of the Bulls were 2-for-15 from behind the line.

Bad shooting nights are going to happen. What also hurt the Bulls down the stretch was the Lakers burned them nearly every time they aggressively doubled Kobe Bryant. Steve Blake and Matt Barnes combined for three three-pointers during a decisive 17-2 fourth-quarter run as Bryant swung the ball after being trapped on the side.

The Bulls also were victimized by former Proviso East star Shannon Brown, who had 21 points off the bench on 5-for-10 shooting from behind the three-point line.

SOME QUOTES:

Rose on Brown:

"He's shooting the ball well this year and he's got a lot of confidence. He's doing great for them. We should have made him a driver."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson on Brown's improvement:

"Shannon had a little hesitation whether he should shoot or drive [in the past]. He's got so much confidence right now. He's real comfortable in taking the shot."

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau on Lakers beating his double teams on Bryant:

"When you put two on the ball, you have to close out hard, you have to cover that line and you have to challenge their shots. I thought they got uncontested shots and they made them."

Gibson expected to play tonight vs. Lakers

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LOS ANGELES -- Following an extensive exam on Monday, including an MRI, Taj Gibson's foot problem was declared minor and the Bulls power forward will try to play tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.

The Bulls' shootaround this morning was nothing more than a walk through, so Gibson will test the injury - a pinched nerve on the outside of his right foot - before the game and a final determination will be made then.

'He said he's feeling a lot better today, so that was encouraging," coach Tom Thibodeau. "We didn't think it was anything major, but we were being precautionary [Monday] going to the doctor. We'll see how he feels tonight. If he's ready to go, he goes."

Del Negro's Clippers end slide

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LOS ANGELES -- Seven games on the circus trip just isn't enough, so I decided to go see the Clippers and the New Orleans Hornets Monday night at the Staples Center.

Actually, I went to catch up with former Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro and see how he was surviving the Clippers' disastrous 1-13 start.

Despite his team's struggles, Del Negro was upbeat - about as upbeat as you could expect - and talked about how he was just focusing on doing his job every day. It pretty much was the same approach he took last season in Chicago after it became apparent his time on the Bulls' bench was dwindling.

That much I expected. What I didn't expect was to see Del Negro's young roster - missing veterans Baron Davis and Chris Kaman - post a 99-95 victory over the New Hornets (who brought an 11-1 record into the game) and snap a nine-game losing streak.

Afterward, Del Negro was happy that his young players finally had some positive reinforcement for their hard work.

"Winning breeds confidence," he said. "The more you win, the more confident guys are gonna get. The more confident they get, they're gonna buy into things. But I've said it from day one: we have good character guys. We've had a lot of injuries so far and some thought losses, but the guys haven't stopped fighting and playing.

"Like I've overall, we have a lot of growing to do and when you win games like this it helps the confidence of young players. It's much easier to teach after wins, believe it or not, than losses, because you can pick your spots a little bit better.

"You better be ready to fight and claw and do whatever you can at this level because no one's gonna feel sorry for you; there's not gonna be a pity party. I'm pleased that we've stayed with it. It's a good win for us."

Gibson sits out with foot injury

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LOS ANGELES -- Following Sunday's Bulls practice session, Taj Gibson was asked why his right shoe was off.

"It's nothing," he said. "I'm fine."

As it turns out, Gibson isn't fine. He pinched a nerve in his right foot early in Sunday's practice and again sat out Monday's practice at UCLA.

Gibson was scheduled to have his foot examined this afternoon and his status for Tuesday night's game against the Los Angeles Lakers won't be determined until after that exam.

Bulls opt to stay on road, head West

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LOS ANGELES -- With three days off between Friday's game at Dallas and Tuesday night's game here against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Bulls could have broken up the two-week road trip by going home for 2½ days.

But coach Tom Thibodeau decided against it. So instead of traveling to Chicago after the late game in Dallas, the Bulls stayed in Texas overnight and traveled to Los Angeles on Saturday.

Following Sunday's practice at the Staples Center, Thibodeau was asked why he decided against going home.

"Just to get acclimated out here," he said. "We could have gone either way with it. I just thought it would be better for us if we came out here."

Van Gundy finally sees Bulls win

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Before Friday, ESPN had televised three Bulls games and Jeff Van Gundy - coach Tom Thibodeau's mentor with the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets - had worked every one.

Thibodeau always is happy to see Van Gundy, but the Bulls had dropped each of those games.

Van Gundy, though, worked the ESPN broadcast of the Bulls' surprising fourth-quarter rally Friday in Dallas, so I asked Thibodeau if Van Gundy now was allowed to do another game.

"Yeah, he was about ready to be banned right there," Thibodeau said.

Boozer staying patient

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Carlos Boozer continues to progress in his rehab from a broken right hand, but isn't yet ready to establish a target date for his return to game action.

"We'll see," Boozer said Friday. "I'm just gonna keep going one day at a time. As long as it keeps improving, I'll be happy with that. That's where I'm gonna leave it at -- as long as I keep improving I'll be happy."

Boozer is able to do some light shooting and dribbling, but remains a ways from being to practice.

"The next step is he'll be cleared to practice where he can take some contact on and we're probably looking at another week or so. When that happens, we'll move forward."

Boozer staying patient with rehab

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DALLAS -- Carlos Boozer continues to progress in his rehab from a broken right hand, but isn't yet ready to establish a target date for his return to game action.

"We'll see," Boozer said Friday. "I'm just gonna keep going one day at a time. As long as it keeps improving, I'll be happy with that. That's where I'm gonna leave it at -- as long as I keep improving I'll be happy."

Boozer is able to do some light shooting and dribbling, but remains a ways from being to practice.

"The next step is he'll be cleared to practice where he can take some contact on and we're probably looking at another week or so," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "When that happens, we'll move forward from there, but we can't think about him playing until he can start going through some practice."

When that does happen, Boozer said his conditioning won't be a factor in delaying his return.

"I'm right there," he said. "The thing about my injury is I've been able to run a lot and stay in shape. So when I get out there for practice -- hopefully very soon, maybe in a week, week and a half I'll be able to practice -- I won't be too far behind."

Boozer staying patient

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Carlos Boozer continues to progress in his rehab from a broken right hand, but isn't yet ready to establish a target date for his return to game action.

"We'll see," Boozer said Friday. "I'm just gonna keep going one day at a time. As long as it keeps improving, I'll be happy with that. That's where I'm gonna leave it at -- as long as I keep improving I'll be happy."

Boozer is able to do some light shooting and dribbling, but remains a ways from being to practice.

"The next step is he'll be cleared to practice where he can take some contact on and we're probably looking at another week or so. When that happens, we'll move forward."

Korver to play against Rockets

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HOUSTON -- After testing his hyperextended right knee at shootaround in the morning and after arriving at the arena at night, swingman Kyle Korver will play tonight when the Bulls open a seven-game road against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center.

"It's gotten better every day," Korver said of the injury. "I got an MRI and a bone scan [Monday] and there was some minor stuff in there, but the doc said as long as I can play through it, it's fine."

Korver joins Bulls; game-time decision

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Swingman Kyle Korver, who missed Monday's team flight to Houston while undergoing an MRI exam on his sore right knee, re-joined the Bulls in time for this morning's shootaround at the Toyota Center and participated.

However, whether he plays tonight against the Houston Rockets in the first game of the Bulls' seven-game road trip won't be determined until just before the game.

Rose named Eastern player of week

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After averaging 21.3 points and a combined 27 assists in leading the Bulls to a 3-0 record last week, point guard Derrick Rose was named the Eastern Conference player of the week on Monday.

"I guess I'm playing good basketball, doing whatever it takes for my team to win," Rose said. "I'm happy that I got the award."

Rose named Eastern player of week

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After averaging 21.3 points and a combined 27 assists in leading the Bulls to a 3-0 record last week, point guard Derrick Rose was named the Eastern Conference player of the week on Monday.

"I guess I'm playing good basketball, doing whatever it takes for my team to win," Rose said. "I'm happy that I got the award."

Korver misses practice

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Kyle Korver didn't practice Monday because of a sore right knee.

The 6-7 swingman left practice early to have an MRI and be examined by team physician Brian Cole at Rush-University Medical Center.

Whether or not Korver will be able to travel with the team to Houston this afternoon is uncertain at this point.

"He may be on the plane," coach Thibodeau said. "If not, we'll put him on another plane tonight."

Hinrich returns to UC -- for real this time

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Although Kirk Hinrich returned to the United Center a few weeks ago when the Bulls and Washington Wizards played in the preseason, Hinrich acknowledged before Saturday night's game there was some different about this visit.

"It counts," he said. "It's meaningful for our team, for sure. We're struggling a little bit right now. We're definitely struggling to finish out games. It's a big game for us.

"It's nice to come back here for me. I've got so many good relationships with guys on the team and in the organization."

Hinrich has adjusted to being a member of the Wizards, but still is adjusting to being a visitor at the UC.

"It's a little weird," he said. "The preseason was really weird sitting in that other locker room. I kind of got a feel in the preseason what it would be like. The main thing is to just try to focus on basketball. I can talk to a bunch of people and everything like that, but I still have to keep my mind on that it's a big game for us."

A year ago, Hinrich was starting along side Derrick Rose with the Bulls and now is starting for Washington in the backcourt with another explosive point, rookie John Wall.

"He's very talented," Hinrich said of Wall. "He has the tools to be an unbelievable player in this league. I think where he can be probably the most special -- which people don't talk about -- is defensively. He's so long and so fast. He can really cause havoc."

Rose toe woes news to Bulls

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Derrick Rose revealed on Tuesday when talking with the media that he's had issues with turf toe since the playoffs last spring, but apparently he didn't say anything to the Bulls.

"That was the first I heard of it," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "You wouldn't know it by the way he's playing. His speed and quickness, he never misses anything in practice, he's always here early, and stays late.

"I asked him about it today and he said he feels fine."

Rose's toe woes

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After Tuesday's practice session at the Berto Center, Derrick Rose revealed that he has been battling a case of turf toe with his left big toe.

Rose said he doesn't remember when or how the problem first flared up.

"I really don't know," he said. "I don't know how you get turf toe. I just know that my big toe hurts. It's been hurting ever since last season, in the playoffs, but I didn't know what was wrong."

The condition is more of a nagging problem than anything else. He hasn't missed any time because of it and even participated in Tuesday's brief workout.

Carmelo says he's committed to Nuggets

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A month ago, there were numerous reports that Carmelo Anthony would be traded before the start of the NBA regular season and most likely would be traded to the Bulls or the New York Knicks, the top teams on his wish list.

Anthony supposedly wanted out of Denver and Nuggets management didn't want to risk the circus atmosphere of starting the season with someone who wanted out.

But two weeks into the season, Anthony is still a Nugget and isn't talking like someone looking to force his way out of town.

The Nuggets play the Bulls tonight at the United Center and Anthony was asked after the team's shootaround this morning at Moody Bible Institute if he thought about what it would be like to play with the Bulls.

"Maybe if I was a free agent I would let my mind wander, but I can't do that right now," he said. "I have to focus on being a Nugget and basketball. It wouldn't be right if I let my mind wander and think about if I was here in Chicago.

"Once I'm inside these walls, it's all about basketball. That's all I really care about, playing basketball. That's what I do best. Outside these walls, it is what it is. I'm not even thinking about business right now. I'm all about basketball right now."

So far, Anthony, who can become a free agent after the season, has refused to sign a three-year, $65 million contract extension with the Nuggets, which has sparked all the trade rumors. But Anthony was asked if he could see a scenario where he stays in Denver if the team is playing well in February at the trading deadline.

"Sure," he said. "Why not? I don't see why not."

He also had some nice words about the Bulls:

"I don't want this taken the wrong way, but who wouldn't want to play with a young point guard like Derrick Rose? They have a good young big man in [Joakim] Noah and [Carlos] Boozer. They've got a good team."

Boozer practices on limited basis

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Although he's still a long way from being ready to play in a game, Carlos Boozer was more than a spectator for Sunday's practice.

"Carlos is doing a little bit more on the court, so it's encouraging," coach Tom Thibodeau said.

Boozer, who's been out since breaking his right hand in training camp, wasn't wearing the soft cast he had been sporting since getting the hard cast removed last week. His right hand was simply heavily wrapped.

"He can do some running up and down the court, close outs, but he can't handle the ball yet," Thibodeau said. "But he's doing a lot of the non-contact stuff."

Thibodeau makes questionable call

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Tom Thibodeau is a rookie head coach and he's going to make mistakes - and make no mistake, his decision not to bring Derrick Rose back down the stretch Thursday night against the New York Knicks was a mistake.

After the Bulls' bench players had cut a 19-point deficit to nine points with just under five minutes left, the Knicks called timeout and gave Thibodeau a perfect opportunity to bring back Rose to keep the run going. But the Bulls' best player never got off the bench.

"I thought that group was playing pretty well and we had gone with the starters a little longer than usual to start the second half," Thibodeau said in explaining his decision. "The second unit fought hard to close it and I wanted to see what they could get out of it. They were closing a lot harder to the three-point line.

"I thought about it, but I thought the group that was out there was covering the line pretty well."

The Bulls had many problems against the Knicks, but Rose wasn't one of them. He was having a great offensive game with 24 points and a career-high 14 assists before Thibodeau pulled the plug on his starters with about nine minutes to go after New York stretched its lead to 18.

I would have gone to the bench then as well. But after the reserves made the improbable run to cut the lead to nine, I definitely would have gone back to Rose - and probably Joakim Noah - to see if he could keep the momentum going and possibly steal a game.

The Bulls players, including Rose, did the prudent thing after the game and didn't question the decision of their coach.

But they were in the minority in that regard. Even the United Center crowd started chanting, "We want Rose... We want Rose... " with about three minutes to play.

Rose addresses 'Good Wife' controversy

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After declining to talk about the subject on Wednesday, Derrick Rose finally addressed the mini controversy surrounding his decision not to go to New York on Tuesday to shoot an episode of the CBS show "The Good Wife."

"I talked to the producer today," Rose said before the Bulls played the New York Knicks at the United Center. "[I] just apologized to him. He said that it really wasn't anything that big."

Rose admitted that the attention the matter received caught him off guard.

"I never thought it would be like that," he said. "That whole atmosphere is totally different. I'm not the type of guy where I'd try to big time anyone or anything. It's not in my character as a person and I'm sorry I did it."

Rose said that when he agreed to shoot the cameo appearance, he had no idea what the circumstances would be. The Bulls played Monday night in Chicago and he didn't get to bed until about 2:30 a.m.

Rose overslept and the timing of going to and from New York didn't work out once he missed the early morning flight.

"The timing was messed up," he said. "They had me waking up at 6 o'clock for an 8 o'clock flight. That's kind of messed up. I told them that the timing would have to be different."

Rose, though, said he still may end up making an appearance on the show. "Hopefully, you'll probably see me in another episode," he said.

Boozer takes first step in comeback

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Carlos Boozer was at Bulls practice on Wednesday as usual, but without the heavy, hard cast that has engulfed his right hand and wrist the previous four weeks.

Boozer, who's been sidelined since the first week of training camp with a broken right hand, had the cast removed on Tuesday and was wearing a much smaller splint.

"It's a great step in the right direction," Boozer said. "I got the pins out yesterday, got the cast off and I'm in a splint now. I'm doing some hand stuff to get my range of motion back in my fingers and wrist. I'm doing some exercises and I got cleared to do a lot of running.

"I can't dribble, catch, shoot or carry anything just yet, but those days are soon."

There's still no timetable as to when Boozer will be able to play in a game, but about four weeks from now would be a reasonable estimation.

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