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updated: 1/22/2013 7:38 PM

Bulls keeping their Rose card close to the vest

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After knocking off the star-studded Los Angeles Lakers late Monday night, the Bulls conducted a leisurely practice Tuesday at the Berto Center.

It consisted of video analysis and shooting. Then most of the Bulls regulars took a seat on the sideline and watched teammates Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler play 1-on-1.

If they got bored with that, they could shift their gaze to the other side of the court and watch assistant coach Adrian Griffin battle rookie guard Marquis Teague.

It's in this environment the Bulls must find a way to get Derrick Rose ready to play NBA basketball. There's not much serious practicing going on right now, in the middle of a game-filled weeks.

"We'll figure it out," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Tuesday. "You have to remember, in practice, you're trying to get it a close to game-like condition as you can, with the understanding that there's nothing like a game. There's nothing that matches that intensity. You strive to get it there, but it's different.

"You have to make sure he can handle this intensity first and then we'll go from there. He's doing great. He's shown great patience and everybody else has to show patience."

Thibodeau said Rose took the "next step" in his recovery from ACL surgery. The previous step was "predicted contact," so this one must be surprise contact, unpredictable contact. What was it exactly?

"He did a little bit more. He's taking on some contact. He's doing fine," Thibodeau said, sticking to nonspecifics. "He's been cleared for more contact, so he took the next step today.

"It's going to be awhile. It's the next step in the rehab. Everyone has to be patient. He's playing more. He's practicing more. He's doing well."

OK, so it still figures to be a few weeks before Rose plays in a game, so more vague updates are in store.

After Thibodeau was finished, Richard Hamilton took a turn trying to explain Rose's latest step. He talked about what it's been like to play against Rose at the Berto Center.

"It's one of those things, when he's out there, he doesn't want you to back off of him because he wants to challenge himself," Hamilton said. "Any opportunity he's on the floor, he wants to challenge himself and see how good he is. So you want to try to make him play some."

Asked if Rose is playing 5-on-5, 3-on-3 or something different, Hamilton quickly eluded the question.

"You just talked to Thibs," Hamilton joked. "What did he say?"

So to summarize, Rose took another step Tuesday, but there's no telling when he'll play. Luol Deng (right hamstring strain) did not practice and will probably miss his third straight game Wednesday against Detroit.

In the meantime, the Bulls improved to 24-16 with Monday's victory over the Lakers, so playing short-handed is still not an obstacle.

"We feel as though the East is wide open," Hamilton added. "Miami, they're the ones that won the world championship. Our job is just to stay afloat. Just keep trying to win games and take our chances at the end."

mmcgraw@dailyherald.com

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