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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bulls' Rose practices, likely to face Heat

Derrick Rose participated fully in the Chicago Bulls' non-contact practice Wednesday and likely will return from missing one game with a sprained right ankle to face the Miami Heat on Thursday night.

"He’s fine," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He went through practice and we’ll see where he is (Thursday). He’ll be game-time again.

"When he’s healthy, he can go. He probably could’ve gone last night but we wanted to be safe with it. He’s feeling a lot better. All the swelling is out so that’s good."

Rose's swelling decreased throughout Tuesday and he badly wanted to play against the Knicks. But management and the medical and training staffs convinced Rose to sit for the 23rd time this season. The Bulls are 16-7 in those games.

"I just think it was the smart thing to do," coach Thibodeau said. "If we’re going to err, we’re going to err on the side of caution. He wanted to play. We felt it best that he didn’t."

Rose tested the ankle in front of the training and medical staffs and management before Tuesday's game. The Bulls beat the Heat at home once already without Rose this season.

"Derrick is a great player," Thibodeau said. "We want him to be out there. We feel good about the guys who are filling in and getting the job done. That’s been a strength all year. But Derrick has to get some games under his belt too so he can play well. It’s not an individual sport. It’s a team sport.

"You have to get your timing with your teammates and your defensive schemes down and all that. So him playing is important but not at the expense of him playing hurt or injured. We certainly don’t want him to do that. If he’s healthy enough to play, he will. If he’s not, he won’t."

If the Bulls win Thursday, they would move closer to locking up the top seed in the Eastern Conference. They will clinch the Central Division title Wednesday if Indiana loses.

"They’re the Eastern Conference champions so we’re chasing them," Thibodeau said of the Heat. "That’s the way we’re looking at it. That’s the reality of it."

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