By Mike McGraw
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Bulls game dayBulls vs. Portland Trail Blazers at the United Center, 7 p.m. Thursday
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: WMVP 1000-AM
Update: Portland (31-36) has the probable rookie of the year in guard Damien Lillard (19.0 points, 6.6 assists) and an all-star in C LaMarcus Aldridge (21.1 ppg), but has been slipping out of playoff contention. The Blazers have gone 6-13 since Feb. 6 and have lost two in a row. SF Wesley Matthews hit 7-of-11 shots from 3-point range in Tuesday's loss at Milwaukee. The Bulls lost in Portland 102-94 on Nov. 18 and have dropped three straight in the series.
Next: Indiana Pacers on Saturday at the United Center, 7 p.m.
-- Mike McGraw
Like many sports fans, Taj Gibson, Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich aren't able to watch the Bulls in person these days, so they get together and watch the games on television as a group.
Actually, they could walk from the locker room to the bench and watch the game live -- they just choose not to. And it's conceivable they could order a round of chicken wings or something.
"We're always in the back, because most of us don't like to wear suits," Gibson said Wednesday at the Berto Center. "We're all in the back, just getting treatment, trying to recover, and it's painful. Being back there with Derrick and Kirk is the worst because they always talk when the TV's on."
Gibson is hoping to return Thursday when the Bulls host Portland. He's missed 10 games with a sprained left knee.
Otherwise, not much has changed. Coach Tom Thibodeau said Hinrich (sore right foot) did more in practice Wednesday, so it's conceivable the veteran point guard could play again soon.
Nothing new on Richard Hamilton, who is out indefinitely with a sore back. The team's newest addition, 6-9 forward Malcolm Thomas, practiced for the first time after signing a 10-day contract on Tuesday.
When it comes to Derrick Rose, it's just more of the same. He practiced with the team and continues to look good, according to Thibodeau, but the return date remains a mystery.
"It's whenever he's ready," Thibodeau said. "He's got to feel good for a while. That's the most important thing -- when he finally does go out on the floor, we want him to be comfortable.
"Whatever the circumstances are, you have to make the best of those circumstances. If there's limited minutes, that's fine too. We'll see. I don't want to jump ahead, I just want him to keep making the progress that he's making. He's feeling a little bit better each day and that's the most important thing."
As Thibodeau kept talking about Rose's status, he ended up mentioning scenarios people have been anxious to see. There isn't necessarily a sense of urgency with 16 games left in the regular season, but it probably goes without saying that Thibodeau and the players would welcome Rose's return more than anyone.
"We've had the opportunity because of our schedule, to do a little bit more scrimmaging, which I think has been very helpful," Thibodeau added. "Hopefully he keeps moving along.
"His game is explosion, stop and go, and all that. He has to feel very good about that. It's power, speed, quickness, agility -- it's a combination of all those things. His change of direction is such a big part of his game. We've just got to make sure that he's completely ready to do that. He's handled his part great."
The reports have been leaking out for weeks that Rose allegedly looks great in practice or is the best player on the floor and is "game ready."
"I think he's doing a great job," Gibson said. "He's staying the course. I see progression every day. I've been doing mostly the same (rehab) drills he does. Seeing him get back close to full strength is great."
Once again, it's conceivable Rose could decide to play against the Blazers on Thursday. Or he might opt to sit out until next season. The wait continues.
"He's being very truthful in what he says. I don't think he knows," Thibodeau said. "The way he's approached it -- from the moment he had the surgery, the next day -- he puts everything he has into everything he's being asked to do.
"He'll know when it's time. We have to trust him and as I've said before, I trust him implicitly. Trust me, he understands what's going on here. We just have to let him work through it."