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Rose and Hamilton seek right rhythm

By K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune –

CHICAGO — At this stage of the season, Tom Thibodeau knows a delicate balance exists between the need for rest and rhythm.

But even with the Bulls boring down on securing the league’s best record and homecourt advantage for the duration of their playoff run, look for their coach to opt for the latter when it comes to Derrick Rose and Richard Hamilton.

“We have a lot of guys who have not played a lot of minutes,” Thibodeau said. “We need guys to get in rhythm. That’s what we’re focused on. Right now, the guys who have been out and missed time, we have to get them playing.”

Rose wore an ice pack on his sprained right ankle as he watched film of his 1-for-13 nightmare against the Heat with Thibodeau after Saturday’s practice. Though Rose admitted to some soreness, he felt good enough for an intense workout on the Bulls’ off day Friday and practiced Saturday.

Unlike in his postgame comments Thursday, Rose attributed some of his woes to his health.

“When your ankle is hurting, you can’t move,” he said. “You know how a sore ankle is where the bone is tender and you can’t get around like that. It was just one of those games. Amnesia. I forgot about that game and it’s on to the next one.

“It was definitely sore. Right now, it’s getting better. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make some shots Sunday.”

Rose said his spirits and conditioning are fine, and his eyes brightened when asked if he would like Thibodeau to play him regular minutes over the final seven games.

“I would love to,” Rose said.

As for Hamilton, he played just longer than 24 minutes against the Heat, his most since returning from his shoulder injury. That included 14:18 straight over the entire third quarter and early portion of the fourth.

“He said he felt good with that,” Thibodeau said. “As long as he’s playing well, that tells you something. The conditioning component is big, particularly when you have missed the amount of time he and Derrick have. We have to get that up to speed.”

That said, the Bulls don’t always need Hamilton to be the 35-minute, big-time scorer he was for so many years with the Pistons, whom the Bulls visit Sunday.

“We’re actually very deep at the wing position,” Thibodeau said. “But as a shooter, he has to have enough (playing time) to be in rhythm also. So you have to strike that balance. We feel good about our wings. Kyle (Korver) has played very well all year. Ronnie (Brewer) has played well. Luol (Deng) has been great all year. When Rip has played, he has been terrific.

“He had the 18-point quarter and 20 points in 20 minutes (against the Knicks). So he can do that. But it’s the efficiency you want him to play with. You want the team to function well when he’s on the floor.

“He gives us something else we can go to. When he’s on the floor, he opens things up for people. He’s great moving without the ball. He gives us transition baskets and then the catch-and-shoot game that allows us to play off that.”

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