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updated: 4/18/2012 11:14 PM

Bulls coast to victory; now it's on to Miami

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  • The Bulls' Richard Hamilton, fouled here by Charlotte's Gerald Henderson, finished with 24 points in 24 minutes.

    The Bulls' Richard Hamilton, fouled here by Charlotte's Gerald Henderson, finished with 24 points in 24 minutes.
    Associated Press


The Bulls played without Derrick Rose and Luol Deng again Wednesday night at Charlotte.

Miami rested Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh during a home win against Toronto.

The Heat expects to be at full strength when it hosts the Bulls on Thursday night in a semi-showdown of the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls have a 2-game lead in the loss column over Miami with four left to play.

Will the Bulls be at full strength on South Beach? Injured Bulls players are almost always described as "game-time decisions," but Rose (sore right ankle) and Deng (bruised ribs) seem to be situated somewhere between questionable than probable.

"We're going to re-evaluate in the morning," Deng told reporters in Charlotte. "But most likely I should be able to go. We'll see how it feels."

The injured players weren't missed Wednesday when the Bulls coasted to a 100-68 victory over the hapless Bobcats, who lost their 18th straight game. Charlotte (7-54) needs 1 more victory to avoid finishing with the worst winning percentage in NBA history.

Richard Hamilton continued to play well, scoring 22 points in 24 minutes. He hit 9 of 13 shots overall and knocked down 4 of 5 attempts from 3-point range.

After missing 39 games this season, Hamilton is starting to round into shape. This was his third 20-point performance in the last five contests.

"When I first came back, the problem wasn't getting shots that I wanted to get; it was just being able to get in a rhythm and get a feel for the game again," Hamilton said. "I'm definitely pleased with what's going on."

The Bulls (47-15) coasted after jumping to a 14-point lead after the first quarter. They dished out 29 assists and dominated the rebounds 57-38. Omer Asik grabbed 15 boards in 21 minutes.

"We had a bad loss against Washington (on Monday) and we talked about getting back to playing how we play," Hamilton said. "That's rebounding, playing defense and trying to share the basketball."

Earlier in the day at the Bulls' shootaround, Rose described his ankle injury, which happened after Sunday's win in Detroit and has caused him to miss two games.

"It's the tendons around my ankle that have fluid on them, and the fluid caused pain," Rose said. "So right now I'm just waiting for the fluid to move around, try to get it out as quick as possible and I should be all right.

"I just remember walking back to the locker room, it was kind of sore, taking my shoe off, it just hurt. I felt throbbing, and walking was kind of messed up."

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