While others rest, Rose wants to play
Bothered by a sprained ankle, the Bulls' Derrick Rose, left, scored just 2 points Thursday on 1-of-13 shooting against the Heat at the United Center.
Trending across the NBA this week is the act of giving rest.
On Friday, after losing to the Bulls, Miami gave Dwyane Wade, Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem and Ronny Turiaf a night off when the Heat hosted Charlotte.
San Antonio sat Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili in the same contest recently. Kobe Bryant has missed four games with a shin injury. Dwight Howard is hoping to recover from a herniated disk before the playoffs begin.
But the Bulls have taken the opposite tactic. Beset by injuries all season, they're trying to gather a full roster and start peaking for the playoffs.
"There's a fine line there," coach Tom Thibodeau said Saturday at the Berto Center. "If you start resting, usually it's earlier than this. In our situation, we have a lot of guys who have not played a lot of minutes. We need guys to get in rhythm right now, so that's what we're focused on."
These days, getting healthy means Derrick Rose. After practice, he hobbled out of the gym with an ice bag attached to his right ankle. He is planning to play Sunday in Detroit.
"I'm feeling good. It's getting better every day, improving," Rose said. "I'm just trying to work on my health, stay positive, like I always say, and keep my spirits up."
Rose scored 29 points when he returned from 12 games off with a groin injury in New York on Sunday. But trying to come back from the sprained ankle, he hit 1 of 13 shots and scored 2 points against Miami on Thursday.
Why such a difference?
"When your ankle's hurting, you can't move," Rose said. "You know how a sore ankle is, where the bone is tender. You can't get around like that, or you're timid to run around. It was just one of those games.
"Amnesia — I forgot about that game and went on to the next one. An ankle injury is definitely going to be sore. Hopefully, I'll be able to make some shots (against the Pistons)."
The Bulls have seven games left in the regular season and lead Miami by 3 games in the loss column. They'll play the Heat again Thursday, but if they win the next three against playoff non-contenders Detroit, Washington and Charlotte, the Bulls will just about wrap up the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
Rose will try to find that balance between getting his ankle healthy and getting back in a basketball rhythm.
"I would love to (play big minutes)," Rose said.
"It's really up to Thibs to see how much he wants to play me. We're playing against some teams that are trying to make the playoffs. No matter if they're under .500, over .500, it's still NBA teams and they're still going to be playing hard."
Thibodeau wants the Bulls to stay focused on the next opponent, but the coaching staff needs to start thinking ahead. There are three reasonable possibilities for an opening round playoff opponent — Philadelphia, New York or Milwaukee. As of Saturday morning, the Bulls and 76ers would be the 1 vs. 8 matchup.
"The advance guys are preparing now," Thibodeau said. "Especially with the way the playoffs are structured this year. You're only going to have one day between the end of the season and the playoffs. They'll have everything ready for us, for the team. I just want (the players) focused on the next game."
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