A nationally televised game against Oklahoma City would seem to be a perfect spot to give Derrick Rose a taste of regular-season minutes.
Rose played more than 30 minutes for the second time in preseason as the Bulls defeated the Thunder 104-95 Wednesday night in Wichita, Kan., to improve to 7-0 in the preseason.
Rose scored 13 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, including 3 baskets from 3-point range in the final four minutes. He played 35 minutes, a preseason high. Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng added 20 points each, while Kevin Durant finished with 22 for the Thunder.
The Bulls carried a lead through most of the first three quarters, but Oklahoma City surged ahead early in the fourth. A Durant jumper, turnaround by rookie center Steven Adams and long jumper from veteran guard Derek Fisher put the Thunder ahead 85-78 with 7:18 left.
Rose returned to the floor with 7:30 remaining in the fourth and finished the game with a lineup of Rose, Deng, Boozer, Taj Gibson and Mike Dunleavy.
Rose drained a 3-pointer with 3:50 left, then dished to Deng for a corner 3-pointer on the next trip to put the Bulls ahead 92-86. Rose knocked down 2 more 3-pointers to put the Bulls up by 8 with less than a minute remaining.
Jimmy Butler returned Wednesday after missing three games with a bruised left knee. He suffered the injury during the game in Brazil.
At the same time, Joakim Noah (groin strain) and Kirk Hinrich (concussion) remain sidelined. Since the Bulls have just one preseason game remaining -- Friday against Denver at the United Center -- there's a chance Noah and Hinrich may not be ready for the regular-season opener Tuesday in Miami.
Noah talked about the status of his return at Wednesday's shootaround in Wichita.
"It's possible," Noah said of missing the Miami game, according to espn.com. "It's possible, but I'm not there yet. In my mind, I'm playing. I want to be out there as soon as I can, so we'll see when that is.
"I feel better. In my work, I'm feeling a lot better and I'm just going to keep going. Keep going until I feel comfortable being out there."
Noah suffered the injury early in training camp. He has played just 19 minutes in the preseason, and that was enough to cause a setback after he played against Detroit on Oct. 16. So even if the injury heals, Noah figures to be a long way from game condition.
Coach Tom Thibodeau said Noah just began shooting Wednesday and isn't yet ready to make cuts.
Hinrich suffered the concussion last Friday against Indiana when he fell backward and struck teammate Erik Murphy's knee. It's tough to predict when Hinrich will be cleared to play.
"He can run a little bit, that's about it," Thibodeau said. "The headaches are gone."
Rose didn't keep up his point-a-minute pace he delivered in the first three games. He played nearly 11 minutes in the first quarter and scored 5 points. By the end of the third quarter, Rose had 13 points, 4 assists and 4 turnovers in 27 minutes but hit just 4 of 13 shots.