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updated: 2/22/2012 10:21 PM

Thibs says Bulls will be top priority during all-star break

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  • Tom Thibodeau, famous for his workaholic coaching style, says he can handle both coaching the East all-star squad and getting the Bulls ready for the second half of the season.

      Tom Thibodeau, famous for his workaholic coaching style, says he can handle both coaching the East all-star squad and getting the Bulls ready for the second half of the season.
    Associated Press


Last year, when asked his plans for the all-star break, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau answered, "Club Berto."

This time, an out-of-town destination awaits the noted workaholic. Thibodeau will be in Orlando coaching the East all-star squad because the Bulls had the best record in the conference on the appropriate day.

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Before playing Milwaukee on Wednesday, Thibodeau vowed not to let the All-Star Game distract him from preparing for the second half of the season.

"That's always the priority," he said. "The All-Star Game is a great event. It's for the league, by the league. It's for the fans. It's a great event and it's an honor to be there, but my priority is with the Bulls. I can manage to do both."

Hamilton gets closer:

Richard Hamilton, who hasn't played since Jan. 29 in Miami, continues to do more work on the court, but coach Tom Thibodeau isn't ready project a return to the lineup for the veteran point guard.

"We want to make sure he's completely healthy," Thibodeau said before Wednesday's game. "Once he shows he can handle the practice part and he's good with that, then we'll go forward. We'll see how it goes."

Hamilton, 34, has played in just 11 games this season because of a groin strain and thigh bruise. The idea is to make sure he's recovered from those injuries and has the time to work himself back into shape before taking on the grind of the condensed season.

"He is doing a lot more," Thibodeau added. "He's taking on contact now, which is a good sign. We'll see where we are when we get back (from the break)."

Rose ready for all-star grind:

Derrick Rose will be making his third straight all-star appearance this weekend in Orlando and his second consecutive start.

"Of course, it's an honor to be in the game," he said. "It's just the running around, that's something I'm not looking forward to."

Rose will have to endure media interviews, all-star practice and other league events. He's also making an appearance an Orlando Foot Locker on Sunday for Adidas.

Bull horns:

Joakim Noah turns 27 on Saturday. ... The Bulls lead the NBA in assists per game at 23.0. They collected 32 assists against the Bucks. ... To this point in the season, the Bulls have played 35 games in 60 days. After the all-star break, they'll play 31 games in 59 days.

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