Chicago Sun-Times

April 2012 Archives

Kyle Korver posted an elequent message to fans on his Facebook page after Saturday night's game. He said it was his brother Clayton's idea, but that he could feel the fans' frustrations.

"We need them now more than ever," Korver said. "We need that positive energy. Our goal is to still win a championsihp. It still is. We're going to need them more than ever."

Fans are encouraged to wear red to Tuesday's game.

"You can't rely on your fans to get it done for you," Thibodeau said. "We have to give them something to cheer about. We have to play well. We're more than capable of playing well. Everyone has to do their job. That's the most important thing."

Entering their playoff series with the Bulls, the 76ers coaching staff gave its players one directive above all and ironically it had nothing to do with Derrick Rose.

Philadelphia's primary focus was and still remains rebounding the ball, something that focused their attention on the Bulls' big men. So while Rose's injury will change the Bulls' game, the 76ers game plan will remain the same.


Although Tom Thibodeau said Derrick Rose is in "good spirits" and is eager to be around his teammates again, the Bulls coach didn't know whether or not his injured point guard would be able to attend Game 2 of the Bulls first-round playoff series against the Sixers tonight at the United Center.

"You want him to be around," Thibodeau said. "He needs to take as much time as he needs. I don't think he'll be able to travel but he'll be around. He wants to be around. As soon as he can be here he'll be here."

Thibodeau said the schedule for when Rose might have surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee will be clearer later in the week. Rose suffered the injury late in the Bulls win over Philadelphia in Saturday's Game 1.

Meantime, Thibodeau has been busy fielding calls from well wishers, including several NBA coaches.

"People have a lot of respect for Derrick not only because of his greatness as a player, but how he carries himself, how he represents the league, how he represents the game, a lot of people are reaching out and want me to deliver a message to him," Thibodeau said.

Kyle Korver reached out to Rose on Monday.

"What do you say to the guy?" Korver asked. "He's had everyone say they're sorry 1,000 times. He's handling it well. It's a tough thing. He seemed like he was doing pretty well."

Thibodeau said he expects Rose to attack his rehabilitation like he does everything else.

"Derrick is fierce competitor," Thibodeau said. "He'll approach his rehab the same way he approaches the game. I'm extremely confident he'll come back and when he does come back he'll be better than ever."

Regardless of whatever positive outlook the Bulls may have concerning their championship aspirations, the team realizes the task got a lot harder when it lost superstar Derrick Rose to a torn ACL.

But one thing that the Bulls' won't miss with the absence of Rose is the intensity Tom Thibodeau-coached teams have become known for.


Immediately after Derrick Rose tore the ACL is his right knee which ended his season and will possibly cause him to miss the beginning of next season, questions were immediately asked as to why the reigning MVP was in the game with his team up double-digits and less than two minutes left in the game.

No date has been schedule for surgery to repair the torn ACL in Derrick Rose's left knee as doctors work with Rose to lay out a recover plan.

"Nothing has been finalized," Tom Thibodeau said. "He's still got to talk to the doctors, lay out the plan. Normally there is a waiting-out period and then they'll do the surgery down the road.''

As the Bulls move forward in the wake of Derrick Rose's torn ACL in his left knee which will cause him to miss the rest of the playoffs, general manager Gar Forman is looking back.

Just when Derrick Rose was on the brink of alleviating fears that he would be unable to fully recover from a nagging ankle injury, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, making an impressive playoff victory over the Sixers seem more like a loss and all-but dashing the Bulls NBA Championship hopes.

Rose landed awkwardly after a jump stop and fell to the floor with 80 seconds left in Saturday's 103-91 win over the Sixers in Game 1 of their first-round NBA playoffs series at the United Center. The team later announced that Rose had torn his ACL and will miss the remainder of the postseason. It's the sixth different injury Rose has sustained this season.

"It's the saddest win," Kyle Korver said. "But we have to pick ourselves up. We've played a lot of games without him. Maybe it was just getting us ready for this."

Rose sat out the regular season finale and has played in only five games in the past six weeks because of a nagging right ankle injury. After shaking off a slow-shooting start in which he missed six of his first seven, he looked anything but rusty in finishing with 23 points, nine assists and nine rebounds in 37 minutes, 13 seconds.

Sixers coach Doug Collins waved for Bulls athletic trainers onto the floor after Rose went down near the baseline late in the game as frenzied sellout crowd fell silent. Rose was writhing in pain and clutching his left knee before being helped off the court and into the locker room by trainer Fred Tedeschi and assistant trainer Jeff Tanaka.

He was later taken to Rush University Medical Center where a MRI revealed the ACL tear. Rose was told his recovery could take as long as eight months, according to a source familiar with the situation, which means he may not be able to return to the Bulls until January.

Players were subdued in the locker room after the game awaiting news of the severity of Rose's injury. Their fears were realized a few hours later when the team released a statement.

C.J. Watson will start in Tuesday's Game 2. While the Bulls are 18-9 without Rose this season, including a 89-80 win over the Sixers on March 17. Although the Bulls beat Miami without Rose and with him playing his worst game as a pro, advancing past the Heat be a tall order without their best player.

"I know how bad he wants to be out there," Joakim Noah said. "Regardless of what happens, we're a capable group. We've been through this throughout the year. We can play ball without Derrick as well."

Bulls players defended Thibodeau's decision to have Rose remain in the game late in the fourth quarter. Philadelphia had cut a 20-point lead to 12 when he was injured.

"I don't work backward like you guys do," Thibodeau said when asked by Rose remained in the game. "The score was going the other way. He's got to play."

Rip Hamilton added 19 points on 6 of 7 shooting while Luol Deng had 17 points and six rebounds. Joakim Noah added 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Bulls, who outrebounded the Sixers 47-38 and had 11 more second-chance points.

Korver helped the Bulls pull away in the fourth quarter and finished with 11 points. Elton Brand led the Sixers with 19 points.

Rose missed 27 games this season with toe, back, groin, ankle and foot injuries, which is 21 more games than he missed in his first three seasons combined.

"It sucks because he was just getting back," Taj Gibson said. "He looked good in practice yesterday and he was looking good in the game offensively and defensively. It was good to have our leader back."

The Bulls have confirmed that Derrick Rose has a torn anterior cruciate ligament and will miss the remainder of the postseason.


Just when Derrick Rose was on the brink of alleviating fears that he would be unable to fully recover from a nagging ankle injury he collapsed while clutching his left knee.

Rose landed awkwardly after a jump stop and fell to the floor with 80 seconds left in Saturday's 103-91 win over the Sixers in Game 1 of their first-round NBA playoffs series at the United Center. Sixers coach Doug Collins waved for Bulls athletic trainers onto the floor. Rose was writhing in pain and clutching his left knee before being helped off the court and into the locker room by trainer Fred Tedeschi and assistant trainer Jeff Tanaka.

Coach Tom Thibodeau said after the game he was unaware of the extent of the injury and was awaiting test results.

"If it's a little injury he doesn't normally go down like that," Luol Deng said. "Like I said, it looked bad. Now we're just hoping for the best."

Rose sat out the regular season finale and has played in only five games in the past six weeks because of a nagging right ankle injury. After shaking off a slow-shooting start in which he missed six of his first seven shots, he looked anything but rusty in finishing with 23 points, nine assists and nine rebounds in 37 minutes, 13 seconds.

The Bulls locker room felt as if the team had lost instead of won. Not even Rose's teammates knew how serious the injury was.

C.J. Watson will likely start in Tuesday's Game 2 if Rose is unable to play.

"It sucks because he was just getting back," Taj Gibson said of Rose. "He looked good in practice yesterday and he was looking good in the game offensively and defensively. It was good to have our leader back."

Bulls players defended Thibodeau's decision to have Rose remain in the game late in the fourth quarter. Philadelphia had cut a 20-point lead to 12 at the time.

"I don't work backward like you guys do," Thibodeau said. "The score was going the other way."

Rip Hamilton added 19 points on 6 of 7 shooting while Luol Deng had 17 points and six rebounds. Joakim Noah added 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Bulls, who outrebounded the Sixers 47-38 and had 11 more second-chance points.

Korver helped the Bulls pull away in the fourth quarter and finished with 11 points. Elton Brand led the Sixers with 19 points.

"I thought we came out great and had a great edge to us and a great intensity," Korver said. "We had really good ball movement. Everybody was touching the ball. I thought we played at a very high level."

Tempers flared briefly in the third period when Evan Turner got his arms tangled up with Carlos Boozer, resulting in players from both teams having words near center court. Rose and Hamilton were called for technicals, as was Brand.

Evan Turner was booed when he checked into the game and whenever he got the ball early in the game. The St. Joseph's product and longtime Rose rival told a Philadelphia-area newspaper that he preferred to play the Bulls rather than the Heat because it was a more favorable matchup, although it hardly seemed favorable as the Bulls outrebounded the Sixers 47-38 and had 11 more second-chance points.

Turner finished with 12 points.

"It's the saddest win," Korver said. "But we have to pick ourselves up. We've played a lot of games without him. Maybe it was just getting us ready for this."

Thibodeau would have Collins vote for NBA Coach of the Year if Collins could vote.

"Thibs is a great coach," Collins said. "I told Jerry this the other day and Pax, to me he should be the Coach of the Year again. This year, with what they've had with their losses to injuries to be where they are with the best record in the Eastern Conference [is impressive]. There are no bells and whistles. They are going to defend, they are going to play tough, they are going to play team ball and they have depth."
 
The respect is mutual.

"He's not only a great coach but a great guy," Thibodeau said of Collins. "He's done it a long time. The guy is very, very talented in whatever he's doing whether he's coaching --- he was a great player --- and he's great on TV. He's terrific. I have a lot of respect for him and all the things he has done."

Philadelphia coach Doug Collins didn't pull any punches when asked what he thought of Evan Turner's comments about the Bulls a few days ago.
 
"It's a different generation," Collins said. "Guys are more inclined to say things. From my standpoint, when I had to play against some of those guys I would never say a word. When I was getting ready to play the New York Knicks in a playoff series I'm not going to talk about watching Walt Frazier play at Southern Illinois and I was gonna kick his ass when I saw him. I just didn't do that."
 
Collins gave a hint that he may have used the controversy to motivate his young player.
 
"The one thing about it is if you say something than you've got to play," Collins said.  "Once the ball is tipped you've go to play."
 

Doug Collins calls Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf one of his best friends. He says vice president John Paxson is "like a son to me." He considers the Bulls a special organization and Chicago a special place.

The Sixers coach also admits he would like nothing more than to knock the team he once coached out of the playoffs.

"It would be one of my greatest thrills," he said.

Collins coached Michael Jordan and the Bulls for three seasons before being fired in 1989. The longtime broadcaster also coached the Pistons and Bullets before being hired by the 76ers before last season.

The former Illinois State standout coached the Sixers to their first winning season since 2004-05 this season.

"This is a very special city," Collins said. "They have embraced me. I don't have any championship rings. Jerry has given me six championship watches [along with] great notes that I have kept very proudly. When I walk down the street --- I haven't been here since '89 --- bus drivers are honking and waving and the fans just saying how much they appreciated my time here.

"I love this city. It's going to be interesting. I'm sure they're not going to be lovely to me [Saturday] but it's a very special place for me."
 

The schedule for the Bulls first-round playoff series against the Sixers is as follows:

Game 1 - Sat April 28, Philadelphia at Chicago, 12 noon, TNT

Game 2 - Tue May 1, Philadelphia at Chicago, 7 p.m., TNT

Game 3 - Fri May 4, Chicago at Philadelphia, 7 p.m., ESPN

Game 4 - Sun May 6, Chicago at Philadelphia, 12 noon, ABC

Game 5 * Tue May 8, Philadelphia at Chicago, TBD

Game 6 * Thu May 10, Chicago at Philadelphia, TBD

Game 7 * Sat May 12, Philadelphia at Chicago, TBD, TNT

The Bulls will play the first game of their first-round playoff series agianst the Philadelphia 76ers at noon on Saturday at the United Center.

Dates and times for the rest of the series have not been released.

Several factors convinced Tom Thibodeau to rest Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Kyle Korver during Thursday night's season finale against the Cavaliers at the United Center.

The Bulls coach said after Wednesday night's win against the Pacers that he would play his starters against the Cavs but Rose's performance in Indianapolis, how his team played overall in the 92-87 win and a first-round playoff series that could start as soon as Saturday afternoon all factored into his decision to give the three players the night off for what he called "maintenance."

C.J. Watson, Rip Hamilton, Ronnie Brewer, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah started for the Bulls.

"Taking everything into consideration, this is the best thing right now," Thibodeau said.

Thibodeau made it clear the decision to rest Rose was not because the star point guard had suffered a setback after having 10 points and seven assists in 26 minutes, 30 seconds against the Pacers. Rose looked as explosive as he has in weeks. He drove into the lane several times and was able to elevate better than he has since initially injuring his right ankle on April 15.

"He's feeling really good," Thibodeau said of Rose. "His explosiveness was back. That was a big part of it."

Luol Deng leads the league with 39.4 minutes per game despite a torn ligament in his left wrist. Earlier this season, Deng opted not to have surgery to repair the painful injury, which would have forced him to miss much of the season.

"It says a lot about his toughness, how he cares about the team," Thibodeau said of Deng. "He's always been a team-first guy. He's played through a lot of stuff. We wouldn't be where we are today without him. He's had a terrific season for us."

Thibodeau is not alone. The majority of playoff-bound teams rested key players on Thursday night.

"Normally you'd have three days to rest and get ready," Thibodeau said of the playoffs. "You've lost that. You have to look at everything and make your decisions based on all the information that you have."

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. --- Tom Thibodeau will begin the game with the starting lineup that has played only 14 games together when the Bulls meet the Pacers on Wednesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse but he said won't play Derrick Rose and Co. extended minutes.

"We'll see how the game unfolds," Thibodeau said. "I want to get a look at some guys on the bench and some different groups together, too."

It's important for the Bulls to build some on-floor chemistry, especially with Rose back on the court. At times, the team has looked more comfortable with their leader on the bench as on the floor in recent weeks, which can't continue if they hope to make a deep playoff run.

"I don't know any other way to have them play together than to have them play together," Thibodeau said. "The only way you can do that is put them out on the floor and let them go. We're not going to extend their minutes where it's overly taxing but at this point of the season you've built the right habits or you haven't. If you're waiting to change when the playoffs get here it's too late."

Thibodeau also said he will use his bench during the playoffs much as he did during the regular season.

"Our bench is our bench," he said. "We did the same thing last year. The starters will play a few more minutes but for the most part it will be the same. We have great flexibility. We have a small forward that can go to power forward. We have C.J., who is comfortable going to the two. We have great flexibility with our roster and that's by design."


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. --- Ask C.J. Watson what owning the best record in the NBA for two straight years says about these Bulls and the backup point guard points his finger at coach Tom Thibodeau.

"It shows how coach Thibs came in and changed the face of the franchise and the team," Watson said. "It's good to have the best record in the East and maybe in the whole league but we want more than that."

Players were thrilled when they received the text message that Thibodeau had cancelled Wednesday morning's shootaround at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Several said they went back to bed, which was the best way for them to celebrate their accomplishment during this truncated season.

"It doesn't guarantee anything but it also gives you your best chance," Thibodeau said.

The degree of difficulty was greater than last year considering the Bulls lost 98 games to injury of illness compared to 61 a year ago.

"It's very impressive," Watson said. "A lot of guys stepped up this year. It's just the makeup of our team."

The Bulls were tied with the Spurs for the best record in the NBA heading into Wednesday night's game. The Bulls hold the tiebreaker for home-court advantage in the NBA Finals because they defeated the Spurs earlier this season.

"I don't think you change your approach," Thibodeau said when asked if he would do anything different to finish with the league's best record. "I want our guys to be consistent with that, how we get ready for each game. If you're doing the right things along the way the results take care of themselves. You don't have to worry about seeding and all that. Whoever is in there you have a job to do and you have to get that job done. That's the way I want them to look at it. I don't want us looking at is as we need the best seed or the best record."

Derrick Rose participated in a full practice with his teammates on Tuesday at the United Center for the first time since aggravating an ankle injury against the Pistons on April 15.

"We got D-Rose back," Carlos Boozer said. "He's still not 100 percent but he's working through it."

The Indiana Pacers may rest Danny Granger in Wednesday night's game at Conseco Fieldhouse but other starters are expected to play even though they are locked into the third seed in the East.

The Bulls could lock up home-court advantage throughout the conference playoffs with a win or a Miami loss. The Heat play at Boston tonight.

"Anytime you're going head to head with a team like that, it's good," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said of playing the Pacers. "It helps get you ready for what you're going to be facing. The important thing is not to change our approach, to prepare the exact same way, know your opponent, know what you want to get accomplished, know what their strengths and weaknessess are. What are the things we want to take away from them? What are the things we're going to try to live with? What are we going to try to accomplish offensively? Those are the things you look at."

At 48-16, the Bulls and Spurs have identical records but the Bulls own the tiebreaker over San Antonio because they beat them head-to-head earlier this season.

Derrick Rose participated in almost all of Monday's practice at the Berto Center.

"He's just got to go step by step," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He's been out a long time. He's finding his way like Rip [Hamilton] has finally got comfortable after going through the extended period off. Derrick is going through the same thing. What Derrick has done in the past, he's gotten up to speed very quickly. Hopefully, that will be the case this time around."

Getting Rose back into a comfort zone is one reason why the Bulls coach wants his starters on the floor during the final two regular season games while other teams are resting players even at the cost of a potential higher playoff seed. The fact that starters have played only 14 games together is another. The third is even more elementary.

Unlike other contenders, his players don't need rest, according to Thibodeau.

"When you look at what the starters have done, our guys up front, nobody is playing starters minutes," Thibodeau said. "They haven't all season. When you look at backcourt guys, Derrick has played 1,300 minutes this year. Rip has played less. Everybody talks about Luol. Luol has only played 2,000 minutes this season. You have a well-rested team. You have to also keep in mind we've played more than 10 guys all season long. That also plays into it. The two things that are important at this point of the season is playing well and being healthy so if someone needed rest we'd give him rest."

What goes around comes around, and that's good news for the Bulls, who had perhaps the league's most demanding early season schedule. A team that has lost 97 games to injuries or illness this season is as healthy as it has been all season and now has the luxury of three days between games for just the second time this season.

Even though Rose remains less than 100 percent, he participated in most of Monday's practice at the Berto Center. Nobody expects him to be playing at an MVP level against the Pacers and Cavaliers on Wednesday and Thursday as the Bulls try to lock up home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.

At this point, the best-case scenario involves him getting as close to 100 percent as possible before the playoffs begin.

"We all hope so," Luol Deng said when asked if he expects Rose to be back to being his dynamic self when the playoffs begin next week.

Tom Thibodeau acknowledged after Thursday night's loss to the Heat in Miami that his team didn't respond well enough to the Heat's physical play, but that doesn't mean he thinks his Bulls are soft.

"When you look at the strength of the club, we've been a defensive team, we've been a rebounding team for a long time," Thibodeau said. "We've been a dominant rebounding team. You can't be a dominant rebounding team being soft, I know that. I wouldn't say we're soft. Were we disappointed with the end result in Miami? Yeah. Are we capable of playing a lot better? Yeah. We're disappointed with our fourth quarter but we also did a lot of good things in that game. That was a winnable game in the fourth quarter. We're going to make some corrections and move forward."

John Lucas III got flattened by LeBron James on a screen and pushed when he tried to approach James afterwards. It was just one of several incidents in a game littered with flagrant fouls and double technicals that will set the stage for what could be another memorable Eastern Conference Final if both teams avoid upsets.

"If they want to get physical we can get physical right back," Lucas III said. "If that's the type of game they want than that's the type of game we're going to bring. That's our mentality. That's not something we need to work on."

Derrick Rose felt good before the game, was walking without a limp and declared himself healthy enough to return to the starting lineup after missing four straight games with a foot/ankle injury.

"It feels like a regular ankle sprain now," Rose said. "My tendons aren't sore like they were on previous days. I'm feeling all right."

Rose doesn't normally tape his ankles but wears braces instead. He had his ankle taped before he last played Sunday against the Pistons and it has been suggested that that may have contributed to him re-aggravating his ankle, although coach Tom Thibodeau has denied that.

"I wouldn't say that," Rose said when asked if taping his ankle caused a problem. "Just playing, getting my minutes back, over time, playing the way that I play, perhaps it had to do with more than the tape."

Rose did say he would wear an ankle brace instead of having his ankle taped against the Mavs.

Derrick Rose participated in parts of Saturday's shoot-around at the Berto Center and is --- wait for it --- a game-time decision for Saturday night's game against the defending NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks at the United Center.

It's more likely that Rose will not play tonight and focus on returning in time for Wednesday's game against the Pacers in Indianapolis. That would allow him him to participate in two regular-season games before the Bulls begin their playoff run.

Everybody else participated in Saturday's shootaround, according to Thibodeau, including veteran guard Rip Hamilton and Luol Deng, who has a torn ligament in his left wrist, is recovering from sore ribs and also received stitches for a cut he suffered above his eye in Thursday night's loss to the Heat in Miami.

"With Derrick right now, it's health first," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We've got to take care of that component. Once that's cleared up, what's Derrick's done in the past, it doesn't take him long. Once he's healthy he'll get up to speed very quickly. Rip is getting more comfortable. Luol missed a lot of time this year also and he's playing with a torn ligament and he has done a great job all year."

Jason Kidd is not expected to play for the Mavericks tonight as a preventative measure. The 39-year-old point guard has missed 17 games this season with three different injuries and has rested on the bench for three other games.

Even without Kidd, the Mavericks are a load. They currently hold the sixth-playoff seed in the Western Conference.

"They're a well balanced team," Thibodeau said. "[Coach Rick] Carlisle does a great job with them. They're deep, they have a lot of weapons, they're skilled, they can hurt you with pick and roll, post, catch and shoot. They can invert their offense, [Dirk] Nowitzki, because of his skill set, you have a seven footer with a high release who is difficult to get to. He and [Jason] Terry are two good fourth-quarter players for them. We're not even talking about Kidd. If Kidd plays, Kidd is Kidd. He's a great all-around player. Even if he doesn't play, they're so deep and have a lot of weapons so they can function well if he's sitting."

Thibs denies TNT report

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Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said the following when asked to comment on a TNT report that the fluid that has built up in Derrick Rose's ankle is the result of athletic trainers taping his ankle too tightly before Sunday's win over the Pistons.

"I haven't heard that," Thibodeau said. "I don't know where that comes from. We have a great medical staff, I know that."

Rip Hamilton was considering discarding the brace on his sprained shoulder before running shoulder-first into three different screens set by Bobcats players during Wednesday night's win that knocked him backwards.

He was icing his shoulder before Thursday night's game and said he will stick with the brace a little longer. While his shoulder was a little sore, he said to have it tested that makes him feel as if it's ready for the more physical play that comes with the postseason.

Several Bulls players chuckled when told how Bobcats coach Paul Silas described Thibodeau before Wednesday night's win.

"He doesn't seem to ever get down on the guys," Silas said of Thiboeau. "When you watch him he's always up, he's directing what he wants done."

It makes you wonder if Silas has spent much time watching Thibodeau, who often seems distraught after a made Bulls basket.

Derrick Rose limped off the bus and into the arena. He limped from the coaches office to the training room, making Tom Thibodeau's pregame announcement that his star point guard would miss his third straight game with a foot injury and his 26th overall anticlimatic.

Thibodeau worries about everything all the time. Others in the Bulls organization are confident Rose will be able to return for the final two games of the regular season against the Pacers and Cavaliers on Wednesday or Thursday, if not before. While not ideal, it would still give Rose two games to acclimate himself before the postseason begins.

Meanwhile, Luol Deng, who missed two straight games with sore ribs, returned.

"I spoke with him this [Thursday] morning," Thibodeau said. "He was cleared and said he's feeling a lot better. That's a good thing."

Chris Bosh did not play for the Heat because of what coach Erik Spoelstra called "general soreness." Center Ronny Turiaf also missed the game with a hamstring injury.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- Luol Deng said after the Bulls 100-68 win over the Bobcats on Wednesday night that there's a good chance he will play against the Heat when the Bulls visit Miami on Thursday night.

Deng missed his second straight game with bruised ribs but said he's been working on getting his motion back.

"We're going to re-evaluate it in the morning but most likely I'll be ready to go," Deng said after the game.

Derrick Rose will miss his 25th game of the season with his fifth different injury when the Bobcats host the Bulls on Wednesday night at Time Warner Cable Arena.

Coach Tom Thibodeau revealed during his pregame media session that both Rose and Luol Deng will not play against the Bobcats, who have lost a franchise-record 17 straight. It will be the second straight missed game for Deng, who injured his ribs against the Pistons.

Both players are also likely to miss Thursday night's final regular season showdown with the Heat in Miami.

Although it's possible Rose and Deng could play against the Heat, Thibodeau likes injured players to practice or at least participate in a shootaround before returning to the court and he does not typically schedule shootarounds when the team is playing on back-to-back nights.

The Bulls currently lead Miami by 2 1/2 games for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

"Ideally, you try to put as many things in your favor as possible," Thibodeau said when asked about the importance of home-court advantage. "Is it a must? I always think if you can get it you get it and if not whatever your circumstances are you make the best of those circumstances. We're young and I want us to continue to improve, learn how to win. Last year, I thought home court helped us a lot. But if you don't have home court you don't. You have to win more on the road, that's all."

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- Derrick Rose can't explain why he has sustained so many injuries this season but he said Wednesday that sitting out final five games of the regular season to ensure he's healthy when the playoffs begin is not an option.

"I want to play as soon as possible," Rose said. "Tonight, tomorrow, I just want to get out there, man. I miss the game."

Rose was not expected to participate in Wednesday's shootaround at Time Warner Cable Arena and will likely miss his 25th game of the season when the woeful Bobcats host the Bulls tonight. The same goes for forward Luol Deng, who injured his ribs in Sunday's win over the Pistons and remains "sore," according to coach Tom Thibodeau.

"It's not the actual bone it's the tendons around my ankle that has fluid on them," Rose said. "That fluid causes pain. Right now, I'm just waiting for the fluid to move around. We're trying to get it out as quick as possible. I should be all right."

Rose said he didn't remember injuring his ankle on a specific play against the Pistons but felt pain walking to the locker room afterwards. When he took off his shoe, his right ankle was throbbing, he said.

With five games remaining in the regular season, Rose was asked if he expected to be limited when the postseason begins.

"I'm not thinking that way," he said. "If you put things into the universe they come true. I'm just trying to stay focused, stay happy, stay positive, keeping my spirits up. Hopefully, I'll be healthy in the playoffs."

Rose missed a combined six games during his first three seasons. He said his teammates have gone out of their way to make sure he still feels like part of the team.

"That's the only things that's changed," he said when asked if the condensed schedule has contributed to his injuries. "How I worked out was the same even though I ran more than I usually did in the past. I really don't now what to blame it on."

Turnovers continued to plague the Bulls during Monday night's loss to the Wizards at the United Center. They had 17, which Washington turned into 27 points in their upset victory.

Just why turnovers continue to be such a problem this late in the season is unclear. It's understandable when Derrick Rose and Rip Hamilton turn the ball over more than usual while trying to get their rhythm back after injuries. But this is bigger than just those two.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau knows he needs to find a solution fast.

"We're 60 games into it," he said. "You have to eliminate all the ways you beat yourself first, then you establish who you are as a team. The low-turnover is a big part of winning. So defense, rebounding, low turnover, those are the three musts, every night. That has to resonate with us."

The Bulls had 19 turnovers in Sunday night's win over Detroit. They also had 19 in a loss to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on April 8 and in a loss to the Rockets on April 2.

"We just tried to get a little too cute," guard Kyle Korver said of the problem against the Wizards. "Sometimes it's fun to make the pass that gets the assist. Sometimes you just have to swing the ball. We're making too many assist passes instead of just making the easy play."

Rip Hamilton is preaching patience.

"We've just got to take our time," the veteran said. "A lot of times with turnovers, we're trying to overpass instead of taking the wide-open pass. We're a very unselfish team. Once we just take the shot that's given to us we'll be better."
 

Derrick Rose (right foot) is a game-time decision and Luol Deng (ribs) is most likely out for the Bulls' game against the Wizards tonight at the United Center.

Derrick Rose scored 29 points against the Knicks after missing 12 games with a groin injury. After sitting out another game because of twisted ankle, he scored only two points on 1 of 13 shooting in Thursday night's overtime win over the Heat at the United Center.

Rose said his sore right ankle for the reason for that disparity. The nagging injury was wrapped in ice after Rose practiced and studied film with coach Tom Thibodeau at the Berto Center on Saturday.

"My ankle hurting and you can't move," Rose said when asked why he was less effective against Miami. "You know how a sore ankle is. The bone is tender. You can't get around like that. It was just one of those games. Amnesia. I forgot about that game and went on to the next one."

Rose has been shooting, running, practicing his runner and playing one-on-one and three-on-three in anticipating on Sunday's game against the Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

"When I was out there it was definitely sore," Rose said. "Ankle injuries are definitely going to be sore. If you play basketball you know that. Right now, it's getting better. Hopefully, I'll be able to make some shots [Sunday]."

With seven games remaining and the Bulls all but assured of the top seed in the Eastern Conference, Thibodeau must decide how he wants to approach the rest of the regular season. Rose and Rip Hamilton have both returned from long absences because of injuries and need time to play together before the playoffs begin.

"We have a lot of guys who have not played a lot of minutes when you look at total minutes, which is what I look at," Thibodeau said. "We need guys to get in rhythm now so that's what we're focused on. We want to continue to improve. We want to be playing our best basketball. We also need to have our health. We're prioritizing those two things."

Hamilton playing approximately 20 minutes per game in his first four games after returning from a shoulder injury. He logged just over 24 minutes against the Heat and can expect to see his minutes extended as the season winds down. He played 14 straight minutes in the second half against Miami, which was a sign that his conditioning is improving.

Hamilton doesn't have to play major minutes to be effective with Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer and rookie Jimmy Butler also on the roster. He had 20 points in just over 20 minutes against the Knicks on Tuesday night, which is the kind of efficiency Thibodeau wants to see.

"When he's on the floor, he opens things up for people," Thibodeau said. "He's great moving without the ball. He gets transition baskets and with his catch-and-shoot game, he allows us to play off of that. Both he and Kyle get double teamed every time they're coming off a screen and they have the responsibility to make the right play. Rip has been around a long time. He's seen all the different defenses. He knows where the holes are. He's very unselfish."

Rose said his conditioning has been better than he expected it to be.

"The conditioning component is big," Thibodeau said, referring to Hamilton. "When you've missed the amount of time that he's missed and Derrick has missed you're concerned about that. You have to get that up to speed."

Omer Asik has played two of his better games of the season in back-to-back wins over the Knicks and Heat. He was so effective in Thursday night's win over Miami that he played the entire fourth quarter and overtime and finished with eight rebounds, two blocked shots and a steal, although his effectiveness can't be accurately measured with statistics.

"Basically, he and Taj anchor the defense back there," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "It gives you two guys with size. if you get past the first one there's another guy sitting there at the rim protecting. That's a tremendous advantage."

Asik isn't as versatile defensively as Noah, who is quick enough to guard players on the perimeter, but excels in other areas.

"He's not a good screener he's a great screener," Thibodeau said. "When you come off Omer you're open, whether it's catch and shoot or pick and roll. He's a big-time multiple effort guy. A lot of times he sets a pick and roll and he's going to fly back out if there's nothing there and set another one and another one. He keeps going. He has added a lot to our offense."

He continues to struggle at catching the ball, however, especially when he's on the move.

"He's rushing a little bit," Thibodeau said. "He'll get better as time goes on. He's a diligent worker. He puts a lot of time in."

The theory that the Bulls are better without Derrick Rose has been gaining momentum as circumstantial evidence has accumulated. It's absurd, of course. When the Bulls have been at their very best Rose has not only been on the floor but at the top of his game. What's important now is that he and his teammates return to that level before the playoffs begin.

It's all about a critical path for the Bulls now that they are all-but assured home-court advantage through the Eastern Conference Finals. Coach Tom Thibodeau's list of priorities became clear as fans streamed out of the United Center after Thursday night's 96-86 overtime victory over the Heat. A schedule that has been an enemy all season now becomes an ally.

The Bulls next three opponents have an average winning percentage of .248. The Pistons, Wizards and Bobcats provide ample opportunity for the Bulls to accomplish two objectives that will assure that they will be healthy, rested and playing at a high level when the postseason begins.

The first is obvious. Rose needs to get his timing back and his legs under him. I had a hunch heading into the game that Rose was going to do something he'd never done before. The last time he played he had eight turnovers and missed to clutch free throws that cost his team a win. He wanted to play Tuesday night but the decision was made for him.

I expected a memorable performance but wouldn't have guessed he would be held to a career-low two points and find himself on the bench during overtime.

It's never been more obvious that Rose is out sync. His shots aren't falling and he's playing tentative, which may be the result of him not having his usual extraordinary lift because of groin and ankle injuries. He needs time to round himself into shape and create synergy with his teammates. The next three games provide ample opportunity.

"It's been a hard year for him, a hard year," Kyle Korver said. "You're 23 years old, you were MVP last year, you come in and get four or five different injuries in a crazy season with all these games. It says a lot about him and his character.

"There's not a lot of superstars who can take the criticism that he gets and play the minutes that he does and still keep [his] head. He's a really humble guy, he's all about winning and he doesn't care -- obviously, he has the ball most the time, he's the MVP, a great player -- but if someone else is open, he's going to pass the ball. He's a great guy, man."

He and Rip Hamilton need time to develop into the kind of one-two punch that can help make sure the Bulls are as successful against the Heat in the postseason as they have been in their past two wins. About 30 minutes a game for the next three games should do the trick. Then Thibodeau can unleash the hounds when the Bulls play in Miami on Thursday.

"My mind was thinking something that my body couldn't do," Rose said after Thursday's game. "I've never had a problem getting my rhythm back. I should get it back soon."

The second priority should be getting Luol Deng some much-needed rest. The forward played more than 42 minutes against the Heat and his now averaging a league-leading 39.4 minutes per game despite having a torn ligament in his left wrist.

Jimmy Butler has been effective guarding LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony this season and could be of use as a spot defender in the playoffs, which is why getting the rookie on the floor during the final seven games should not only give Deng a blow but prepare him for his postseason assignment.

Thibodeau wants to win every game regardless of the circumstances, and the philosophy has served his team well over the past two years. The schedule now allows him to continue accomplishing his short-term goals while taking a longer view that can help the Bulls maintain the momentum gained in one of their most unlikely wins of the season.

"It was a fun game [Thursday night] but it was just a game," Korver said.

Tom Thibodeau said he came away from the Bulls pursuit of LeBron James when he was a free agent during the 2010 offseason impressed with the Heat star.

"He was great," Thibodeau said. "He's a fierce competitor. I thought [chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf] said it best: 'He earned the right to do what he did.' He handled himself overall well. He's not perfect. No one is. But he was great with us, and that's all I base it on."

Thibodeau didn't sound surprised by the backlash against James when he chose the Heat over his home-town Cavaliers.

"You're never going to please everybody," he said. "At the end of the day you just have to be true to yourself and he was. That was the best decision for him. It didn't work out for us. We moved on. He moved on. It's all good."

Kyle Korver vowed to return to the Bulls this season as a better defensive player. He has accomplished it thanks largely to film work.

"I go over all my minutes with [assistant coach] Andy Greer after every game," Korver said. "I go over where I could be better on defense, when to square guys up, when to force them in a different direction, my hands, my feet, we go over everything."

Korver is coming off what coach Tom Thibodeau called his best defensive game in two years in Tuesday night's win over the Knicks. Korver had seven rebounds and three blocked shots in that game. He also had 14 points on 5 of 8 shooting, including 3 of 5 from beyond the three point line, but it was his defense that stood out most of all.

He dove on the floor for a loose ball in the fourth quarter before firing a quick pass to Carlos Boozer for an easy bucket.

"He really works at it," Thibodeau said. "He puts a lot of time in. He studies. He watches a ton of film. He knows his opponent. He's done a great job for us."

Korver said spending another season in Thibodeau's system has helped, too.

"Coming from Utah, our philosophies were opposite of what we're running here," Korver said. "There's a lot of times you're in a game and there's a quick play and you go back to your old tendencies. It took a little time to break that. I still have a ways to go but I'm getting better at it."

The Heat know their matchup with the Bulls tonight at the United Center will feature a playoff-type atmosphere.

But with the guarantee that the outcome won't be the determining factor in either teams' seasons, the Heat players are readying themselves for some mind games that could serve as a precursor for the playoffs.

Derrick Rose participated fully in Thursday's shootaround at the Berto Center and while still considered a "game-time decision" by coach Tom Thibodeau, he's expected to play against the Heat on Thursday night at the United Center.

The Bulls had 37 turnovers in two straight games against the Knicks. If that trend continues against the Heat, the Bulls could see their lead for home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference shaved to two games.

"They're great with steals," Thibodeau said. "They're long, athletic. When they turn you over they turn that around very quickly. If they're live ball turnovers it's almost impossible to get back. You have to take care of the ball and you have to be back on the raise of the shot. They race the ball up the floor."

"Their three primary guys, you're looking at two guys who are great off-the-dribble in LeBron [James] and [Dwyane] Wade and then you have [Chris] Bosh, who is a terrific low-post player. They're surrounded with guys who can really shoot with great veteran experience. What you can't do is overcommit to those three guys and leave [Mario] Chalmers open, Mike Miller, and Shane Battier and [Udonis] Haslem. [Ronny] Turiaf has been added to their team so they're deep. They can hurt you a lot of different ways. You have to play well against them."

Derrick Rose is expected to play when the Heat visit the Bulls tonight at the United Center.

"To me, at this time of the year, you've got to be smart about all that stuff," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He probably could've played last night. He wanted to play. We just thought the smart thing was to not have him play. Don't take any chances. He has made great progress with all this stuff. He's feeling good. It was a freaky thing that happen to him. He's fine now."

Rose participated in Wednesday's non-contact workout at the Berto Center.

The Bulls have a three-game lead on the Heat for the best record in the Eastern Conference heading into tonight's game. The Bulls could clinch the Central Division is the Pacers lose to the Cavaliers on Wednesday night.

Derrick Rose's long-awaited return after missing 12 games with a groin injury lasted one game.

Rose was inactive for Tuesday night's rematch against the Knicks after twisting his ankle in Sunday's overtime loss in Madison Square Garden. Rose said he injured his ankle in the second quarter when he stepped on what he believes was the foot of Landry Fields. Although his ankle was hurting, he remained in the game and played 38 minutes, 37 seconds.

"You know how I am, if it's a close game or a game I want to get I'm going to continue to play and it made it a little bit worse," Rose said. "It's just an ankle sprain. Hopefully, I'll be over it in a couple days."

Rose said his ankle began to throb on the bench before he returned to the game in the fourth quarter.

"That's why I was walking the ball up the majority of the time," he said. "I wasn't running because it was throbbing. I was just trying to win the game. It definitely hurts losing the game and sitting out this game, if I do choose to play or not to play. It's definitely going to hurt. That [Knicks] game hurt a lot."

Rose wore a walking boot Monday and twice came to the Berto Center for treatment. He received more treatment Tuesday morning but did not participate in the team's shootaround. He underwent more treatment after warming up before being ruled out of Tuesday night's game.

The Bulls host the Miami Heat at the United Center on Thursday.

"I remember driving the middle," Rose said when asked how the injury occurred. "Fields was right there. I was thinking about passing and I just felt my ankle turn. I threw the ball and Taj [Gibson] ended up catching it. He gave it back to me. I couldn't move. I threw it to Lu [Deng] when he was under the basket. I don't know what happened after that."

Rose had 29 points and eight turnovers against the Knicks after missing 22 games with toe, back and groin injuries.

"This is the first time ever in my life I've been injured like this," he said. "It's definitely frustrating missing all these games. I'm just trying to stay positive and keep my head up."

Derrick Rose was also asked to comment on a report by Sun-Times columnist Stella Foster that his longtime girlfriend was expecting after Tuesday morning's shootaround at the Berto Center.

"That's my personal life," Rose said. "I think I need a little bit of privacy to myself."

Rose then apologized to the television reporter for not answering the question.

The most dreaded words in the Bulls vocabulary this season were once-again used by coach Tom Thibodeau to describe Derrick Rose's status for Tuesday night's rematch against the Knicks at the United Center: Game-time decision.

Rose twisted his right ankle in Sunday's overtime loss to the Knicks. That game marked his return after missing 12 straight games with a groin injury.

Rose said he injured his ankle in the second quarter of Sunday's loss when he stepped on what he believes was the foot of Landry Fields. Although his ankle was hurting he remained in the game.

"You know how I am, if it's a close game or a game I want to get I'm going to continue to play and it made it a little bit worse," Rose said. "It's just an ankle sprain. Hopefully, I'll be over it in a couple days."

Rose said his ankle began to throb when he sat out before returning to the game in the fourth quarter.

"That's why I was walking the ball up the majority of the time," he said. "I wasn't running because it was throbbing. I was just trying to win the game. It definitely hurts losing the game and sitting out this game, if I do choose to play or not to play. It's definitely going to hurt. That [Knicks] game hurt a lot."

Rose wore a walking boot Monday and twice came to the Berto Center for treatment on his ankle. He also received treatment Tuesday morning but did not participate in the team's shootaround. He was to undergo more treatment after the shootaround and again before tonight's game at the United Center.

Although he didn't rule himself out of tonight's game, and he said his ankle has improved after every treatment, he admitted it remained swollen and was painful.

"I remember driving the middle," Rose said when asked how the injury occurred. "Fields was right there. I was thinking about passing and I just felt my ankle turn. I threw the ball and Taj [Gibson] ended up catching it. He gave it back to me. I couldn't move. I threw it to Lu [Deng] when he was under the basket. I don't know what happened after that."

The Bulls have nine games left in the regular season to regain chemistry before the playoffs begin. Rose and backcourt mate Rip Hamilton have missed significant time this season and both have been rusty since returning.

Rose had 29 points and eight turnovers against the Knicks.

"It's huge, especially right now," Rose said of getting everybody healthy. "We have to catch a rhythm. I've been out the majority of the year with all these injuries. Other players have been out. If anything, we're happy we're still together. This is basically the same team as last year. We know everybody's tendencies on this team. We know how to play with one another but it's going to take a little time for us to gel."

Rose has missed 22 games this season with toe, back and groin injuries.

"This is the first time ever in my life I've been injured like this," he said. "It's definitely frustrating missing all these games. I'm just trying to stay positive and keep my head up."

The Sun-Times has confirmed that Derrick Rose injured his ankle in Sunday's loss to the Knicks and will be a game-time decision for tonight's rematch at the United Center. The story was first reported in the Tribune.

The Bulls took the practice floor at the Berto Center at 10 a.m. Tuesday for a shootaround. More news to follow.

NEW YORK --- Carmelo Anthony buried a three-pointer to tie the game in regulation and another to win Sunday's game in overtime.

"You can't be giving up that shot," Thibodeau grumbled. "It's the only thing that gets you in trouble is the three. You don't give it up. You make them drive. You make them take the two."

The three that tied the game was a 27-footer.

"I don't even know how far he shot it from," said Luol Deng, who was guarding Anthony on the play. "He made some tough shots throughout the whole game. I knew he was looking for the shot. Just because it was two steps behind the three[-point line], I was back but I should've been up on him."

NEW YORK --- Joakim Noah usually brings so much energy to the court that when he doesn't it's obvious. Such was the case Sunday when he played just 26:54 and sat out much of the fourth quarter before making key plays late in regulation and in overtime.

"When you're an energy player you have to bring it every game," Thibodeau said. "He's shown that when he plays with great energy he's terrific and when he's playing with great energy we're playing with great energy. It wasn't only him. It was our entire team."

Noah had 10 points with five rebounds and two turnovers.

"I know I can play better," said Noah, who spent much of his childhood in New York rooting for the Knicks. "I want to be out there more, too."

NEW YORK --- Derrick Rose played 38 minutes, 37 seconds in Sunday's loss to the Knicks in Madison Square Garden after missing 12 straight games with a groin injury but said he didn't think about the injury during the game, felt fine afterwards and didn't anticipate soreness Monday.

Rose had 29 points, eight turnovers, four assists and six rebounds. He had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation and again in overtime but missed both times.

"I felt good," Rose said. "My wind was OK. It just felt good to be out there."

Thibodeau said he had trainer Fred Tedeschi check to see how Rose was feeling throughout the game.

"It was about what we expected," Thibodeau said of Rose's performance. "Some good, some bad. Handling the ball was a problem."

NEW YORK --- Tom Thibodeau confirmed that Derrick Rose will start against the Knicks today.

How much Rose will play remains to be seen. The Bulls coach said he will give Rose 6 to 8 minutes to start the game and re-evaluate from there.

"You don't know where a guy is," Thibodeau said. "It's similar to Rip [Hamilton]. It's such a long period of time. There's going to be some rust with timing and stuff like that. To me, it's one thing in practice. You try to get practice as close to game-like conditions as possible but at this time of year you're not going to go as long and you know you're never going to get that intensity level the same as in a game. It will be interesting to see. In the past whenever he has missed time he has come back very strong and picked things up very quickly."

Rose has missed 12 games after injuring his groin in a win over these same Knicks at the United Center on March 12.


Tom Thibodeau says Derrick Rose's availability for Sunday's game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden is a game-time decision.

Rose said it's not Thibodeau's decision to make.

"It's really not up to him. It's up to me," Rose said. "If I'm feeling good I'm going to play. If I feel I need some more days I'll take some more days. More than likely, I'll be out there."

A full-scale practice Saturday morning at the Berto Center was the latest test to the groin injury that has benched Rose for 12 straight games. The All-Star point guard has been increasing his activity level in recent days and has not reported a setback. He has now played three-on-three, chased speedy John Lucas III around defensively and practiced with the starters.

"It feels good practicing with the guys, interacting them," he said. "I ran the play sets again. To be practicing, it feels great. I feel like a basketball player again."

Thibodeau said he'll have an idea of how much he wants Rose to play in his first game. After that, game situations will help dictate his minutes.

"You won't know until he gets out there because of the amount of time he has missed," Thibodeau said. "He's never missed an extended amount of time like this before. Every other time he has come back he gets up to speed pretty quickly. He's been putting a lot of extra time in so hopefully he'll be ready when he goes out there."

Rose said he will have as much input as Thibodeau into how much he plays.

"If I do choose to play it's up to me," Rose said. "If it's a close game, no matter how many minutes I play, I'm going to want fight somebody to be out there."

Rip Hamilton has played two games since returning from a shoulder injury. He played 19 minutes, 49 seconds in his debut against the Rockets and 20:03 in a win over Boston.

"There's no restriction on his minutes as he continues to play more and his conditioning comes around," Thibodeau said. "He has missed significantly more time than Derrick. It's different. But the way he's practicing tells me he can handle more but we'll see. Performance is part of it, too."

Under the circumstances of the jam-packed schedule of this season, it's logical to point to the Bulls' youth as the reason they sit with the best record in the NBA.

Naturally older teams with players who have dealt with long injuries over the course of their careers would have been disadvantaged by playing so many games in such a short period of time.

But Celtics coach Doc Rivers had an entirely different take on the Bulls' success.

Derrick Rose is expected to return from a groin injury Sunday when the Bulls face the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, which means it's back to the bench for John Lucas III. The third-string point guard proved during Rose's absences that he belongs in the NBA, at least.

"I'm not here by accident," Lucas III said. "I proved I can play with the best. That was my whole goal, to show people I could play. People who said I was here because of my father, I didn't want to hear any of that. Every night I step on that court I want to prove everybody wrong."

Rose was a game-time decision but told reporters before the game that would not play against the Celtics on Thursday night but would play Sunday instead.

Coach Tom Thibodeau was less certain.

"We'll see," Thibodeau said. "We're optimistic. We're hopeful. If that's the case, that's the case. We just want to make sure."

There's no reason to rush this, not with what's at stake. If Rose does return Sunday, he'll have 10 games to work himself into playoff shape before the postseason begins.

"You're cautious because of where you are in the season, too," Thibodeau said. "He has to be healthy. We're not going to rush him back just to get him back. He's got to be healthy."

Lucas III, the son of ex-NBA player and coach John Lucas, has been the biggest surprise of the Bulls season, although players and coaches say they have long known what he can do. He scored 25 points against the Wizards in his first NBA start. He scored 20 against Orlando and had 24, including a late-game, fade-away jumper over LeBron James, in a win over Miami last month.

Lucas III has been a bottom-of-the-roster player during his NBA career. He has also played in China, Spain and Italy.

"I don't even think about stuff like that," Lucas III said when asked if he has earned a measure of security. "It's a business. This league is crazy. I go out there and play like it's my last game every game. I don't care if we're up by 30 or down by 40, I'm going to go hard no matter what."

Derrick Rose said at this morning's shoot around that if he does not play tonight against the Celtics at the United Center he expects to play Sunday when the Bulls travel to New York to take on the Knicks.

Despite being classified as a game-time decision, Rose has sat out the past 11 games with a groin injury.

Derrick Rose did everything required of him in Wednesday's practice at the Berto Center and could return from a groin injury when the Bulls host the Celtics tonight (8:30 p.m. tipoff). It seems more likely, however, that his comeback will come against the Knicks in New York on Sunday or when the two teams meet again at the United Center on April 10.

Rose said he wasn't able to run at top speed but both coach Tom Thibodeau and Rip Hamilton were impressed after he participated in a limited-contact workout.

"On Derrick's bad days he's still a 10," Hamilton said when asked to rate Rose's explosiveness on a scale of 1-10. "He possess all the attributes. When he's 100 percent he's way over 10. Him not full speed is still faster than 98 percent of the league."

Rose admits he's not in game shape after missing 11 games with what general manager Gar Forman has described as a "major" groin injury but he doesn't believe that will be a major obstacle.

"I really don't know," Rose said when asked if he would recover fully or would be forced to play in pain for the rest of the season. "This is my first time ever having this injury. Usually people, after they have it, they don't have it anymore, but my biggest thing is coming back too quick and re-injuring it again."

Hamilton also participated in the team's 90-minute practice after making his return from a prolonged absence with a shoulder injury in Monday night's loss to the Rockets. The veteran said he's looking forward to spending some quality time on the court with Rose. Both players have endured injury-plagued seasons.

"He does so many great things on the floor that can get me so many wide-open baskets," Hamilton said of Rose. "Pretty much my whole career my team looked at me to lead the team in scoring every game. Now I'm in a situation where I can get to spots. Derrick is going to create. Derrick is going to make plays to make my job a lot easier."

Gar Forman said he fully expects to resume talks on a contract extension with coach Tom Thibodeau after the season. The Bulls general manager also called an ESPN report that claimed Thibodeau was frustrated because he had not received an extension a "non-issue."

"We want Tom to be our coach for a long time, and I know Tom wants to coach the Chicago Bulls," Forman said at the annual charity dinner and auction at the United Center on Tuesday night. "We initiated extension talks with him last fall, which really is probably unprecedented in the NBA after one year, but we think that highly of Tom. Our talks were very productive. When our season started, both sides agreed to table those talks until after the season.

"It's our objective to have Tom as coach of the Bulls long-term and I think it's Tom's objective to be the coach of the Bulls. Usually, when you're objectives are the same you should be able to reach a resolution."

Thibodeau had no head-coaching experience when the Bulls signed him to a two-year contract before last season. The deal includes a club option for the 2012-13 season.

"One of the many things Tom does well is he has a great feel for how to pace our team," Forman said when asked if Thibodeau's hard-driving style could wear on players over time "A lot of fans don't see that because they see how hard we play on game night but during the course of the season, Tom has a pretty good idea of when to turn the heat up as far as practice is concerned and when to take a step back and give guys some time off. It's really not a concern."

Derrick Rose worked out for an hour at the Berto Center on Tuesday and his availability for Thursday night's game against the Celtics at the United Center has "not been taken out of play," according to Bulls general manager Gar Forman.

"Today was really his first day on the floor going full speed as far as a basketball workout --- running, sliding, shooting," Forman said during the Bulls annual charity dinner and auction at the United Center on Tuesday night. "He was in a full lather for probably close to an hour. That was encouraging. We'll see how he feels tomorrow. Today was the first step. Hopefully, we'll have a resolution real soon.

Forman said Rose's participation in Wednesday's full-squad workout would be determined by how he felt Wednesday morning. He also said Rip Hamilton felt fine after making his return in Monday night's loss to the Rockets after missing 14 games with a right shoulder sprain.

Rose has missed 11 straight games with a groin injury.

"Our hope is sometime in the next week or so we can have our whole team back and healthy and then get some games under their belts as far as developing a rhythm with each other and then head for the playoffs as a healthy team," Forman said. "That's going to be a key for a lot of teams going into the postseason, getting your team healthy, in rhythm and ready to go."

First he was a game-time decision. Later, it was announced that Ronnie Brewer would start at shooting guard and Rip Hamilton's return would be delayed yet again. Then, a few minutes before tipoff, it was announced that Hamilton would start after missing 14 straight games with a shoulder injury.

Hamilton has missed 37 games this season with groin, thigh and shoulder injuries.

On Sunday, Derrick Rose said he has been trying to run with little success because of a sore groin that has forced him to miss 11 straight games. Before Monday night's game against the Rockets, coach Tom Thibodeau said Rose has been running.

Confused? You're not alone. Thibodeau insists, however, that his star point guard has not suffered any setbacks.

"He's adding on to what he's doing each and every day," Thibodeau said. "That's the encouraging thing. He's doing more and more and not having any repercussions the next day. He's going step by step. We just have to be patient, let him work through it and he'll be fine."

Rose was walking without a limp before Monday's game, which was one sign of progress, at least. Thibodeau said he's confident that Rose will return to the starting lineup before the regular-season finale against the Cavaliers on April 26.

"It's a groin," he said. "It's tricky. You just have to be patient and continue to do his rehab. As long as he's making progress that's all we're concerned with."

Rip Hamilton missed his 15th straight game with a shoulder injury. Thibodeau has said repeatedly that Hamilton is healthy enough to play but he wants to play it safe.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has been named the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for March.

Thibodeau led the Bulls to a league- best 13-3 (.813) record last month including a league-leading 6-0 mark on the road. His team held opponents to a league-low 43 percent shooting from the floor.  Thibodeau recorded his 100th career win on March 19 at Orlando (86-59), his 131st game as head coach, becoming the fastest coach in NBA history to reach 100 wins. 

The Bulls will begin selling tickets for the first two rounds of the 2012 NBA playoffs on Friday, April 13 at 11 a.m., according to a statement released by the team.

Tickets can be purchased at Bulls.com, 1-800-4NBA-TIX, the United Center and Ticketmaster.
 
A total of eight possible home games will go on sale, four in the first round and four in the second round.
 
All game dates, times and opponents will be released by the NBA through the media after the regular season has ended.
 
Refunds for any unplayed home games will be provided through the place of purchase. If the Bulls advance beyond Rounds 1 and 2 to the Eastern Conference Finals, the date of sale for those games will be announced at that time.


OKLAHOMA CITY --- Derrick Rose admitted that his groin injury is worse than he originally thought.

Rose sat out Sunday's loss to the Thunder. It was the 10 straight game has has missed because of his injured groin and the 20th game he's missed this season.

Rose said there's no timetable for his return but he does expect to return to the court before the end of the regular season.

"I really don't know," he said when asked how long it would take him to get his game playoff ready. "If I knew that answer it would make a lot of things easy. It's going to take a minute to get my rthym back. Hopefully, it takes a game. We'll see."

Rose has been lifting weights and stretching but said he hasn't started running yet.

"Derrick each day is doing more and more so he's moving along the way we anticipated," coach Tom Thibodeau said.

Even if Rip Hamilton is convinced he's ready to return to the court coach Tom Thibodeau may not let him.

Thibs said before Sunday's game with the Thunder that he is going to be extra careful with the veteran shooting guard who is returning from his third injury this season.

He said Hamilton's availability would be a game-time decision because he wanted to talk with Hamilton after warm ups.

"I've just got to be convinced," Thibs said. "He thinks he's ready. I just want to make sure we're smart."

Hamilton has missed 36 games this season with groin, thigh and shoulder injuries. He has been practicing with team and has been able to stay in shape while letting his shoulder heal, which hasn't been the case for Derrick Rose, who will miss his 10 straight game with a groin strain.

"I feel good about Rip because Rip has been practicing," Thibs said. "He has no problems with his lower body. The thing is the contact part of it. I just want to make sure from that aspect of it. But for all the lower body injuries he's fully healthy. That's very encouraging.

"Derrick each day is doing more and more so he's moving along the way we anticipated."

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