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Derrick Rose practices unrestricted in 5-on-5, but Bulls’ accounts vary

9-15-10 Sports Joe Cowley. Staff Mug. phoby Jean Lachat/Sun-Times

9-15-10 Sports Joe Cowley. Staff Mug. photo by Jean Lachat/Sun-Times

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TONIGHT

BULLS
AT HORNETS

The facts: 7, CSN+, 1000-AM.

Updated: March 20, 2013 6:39AM



Derrick Rose still hasn’t dunked — at least not to his liking. Not ‘‘off stride,’’ not with the explosion he expects from himself.

The Bulls guard says that’s his final test in his road back from surgery last May to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

But as far as the Bulls are concerned, Rose may have jumped the final hurdle Monday, participating in his first five-on-five scrimmage with no restrictions, no holding back.

‘‘It went fine,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. ‘‘He’s doing what he should be doing. Focused on his rehab, doing more and more. We just have to be patient. When he’s ready, he’ll go.’’

Thibodeau was asked how much Rose participated in the scrimmage, which guard Kirk Hinrich described as about three eight-minute sessions.

‘‘He did what everyone else did, just a normal practice,’’ Thibodeau said.

But, as has been the case whenever Rose’s comeback has been discussed, the message was inconsistent. Center Joakim Noah said Rose participated in the scrimmage ‘‘just a little bit.’’

‘‘Not too much,’’ Noah said. ‘‘He’s doing well. He’s working hard every day and getting better.’’

Asked if Rose was dunking, Noah said, ‘‘No, not yet.’’

But in January, several teammates said Rose was dunking.

Noah even seemed to be backtracking on his feelings about Rose’s return at all this season. He gave it a big yes last week. On Monday he changed it to, ‘‘We’ll see. We’ll see.’’

One thing that was fairly clear after this first post-All Star break practice is that Rose and Hinrich are planned to be on the court at the same time when Thibodeau wants that type of matchup. Hinrich said he spent some heavy minutes at the two-guard, with Rose taking the point guard duties that Hinrich has handled in his absence.

‘‘It was good,’’ Hinrich said. ‘‘I have some experience doing that, so it was good just to see Derrick out there and [to be] playing alongside him. We all needed the work.’’

Some more than others. Hinrich had been sidelined the last two weeks after surgery to clean out an infection in his right elbow. He worked out over the break and will be in the starting lineup Tuesday night in New Orleans.

Now, if the starters could just get some intensity back. The Bulls dropped their last two games going into the break and looked worn down in those losses. Thibodeau gave the players a lengthy speech Monday with the aim of getting their focus back — with or without Rose in the second half.

‘‘We had slippage,’’ Thibodeau said of the losses. ‘‘The big thing is getting our level of intensity up to where it needs to be so that we can execute at a high level. For us, that’s paramount. We have to clean some things up offensively and defensively, but the biggest thing is the level of intensity and to get that back.

‘‘You map out the rest of the season moving forward, so we touched on a lot of things. . . . It comes down to how smart and how together we can be. We know being short-handed without Derrick, that’s our only way of having success, so we have to get back to that.’’



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