DENVER --- If only they were healthy, injured Bulls players might be able to beat their healthy teammates in a game of five-on-five.
A team with Derrick Rose (knee) at point guard, Kirk Hinrich (elbow) at shooting guard, Marco Belinelli (ankle) at small forward, Carlos Boozer (hamstring) at power forward and Joakim Noah (foot) at center could win a lot of games.
All the aforementioned except Hinrich, who didn't make the trip, practiced at the Pepsi Center on Wednesday as coach Tom Thibodeau tried to get his players adjusted to the altitude before Thursday night's game against the streaking Nuggets.
How much and how effectively they practiced was another matter entirely.
Noah did some shooting Tuesday and said the plantar fasciitis in his right foot feels as good as it has after missing three games. He planned to do what he could Wednesday and wait and see how his foot responds during Thursday's shootaround.
"It's feeling better everyday," Noah said. "[But] I think it's something I'm going to have to deal with for a little while."
Belinelli was expected to be limited after twisting his ankle in Monday night's loss to the Pacers. Boozer returned from a hamstring injury in that game and has suffered no setbacks. Rose continues his seemingly endless rehabilitation from ACL surgery, which makes what the Bulls have accomplished this season even more remarkable.
Even veteran Rip Hamilton, who has seen much during his 3-year career, is impressed.
"You can get on a team and guys won't pass to other guys the ball because whoever is making the most money is supposed to get all the shots and the rookies aren't supposed to shoot," Hamilton said. "They are just supposed to pass. Here, you're only as good as your teammate. If your teammate is not playing well and struggling you're going to be struggling. If your teammate is playing well you're going to be playing well. As long as we stick with that good things will happen for us."
If Belinelli can't play, Thibodeau might bring rookie Marquis Teague off the bench or use veteran Daequan Cook, who impressed Thibodeau in limited minutes against the Pacers.
Backup center Nazr Mohammed has played sparingly with Noah out while forward Taj Gibson has been logging major minutes, although Thibodeau said that could change, too.
"A lot of it is matchups," Thibodeau said of Mohammed's lack of minutes of late. "The other thing you have to factor in is you're not just down one player. You're down an entire unit basically so you're looking for different groups that can play well together so it's not one guy you're factoring in but a number of guys you're taking a look at."