As they embark on their seven-game, 13-day road trip, it’s not clear which Bulls are going to show up—in more ways than one.
On the medical front, Derrick Rose (hamstring, back) and E’Twaun Moore (hamstring) have not been ruled out for the Lakers game on Thursday.
“[Rose] is sore,’’ coach Fred Hoiberg said after practice Tuesday. He did a little noncontact stuff. We’ll see how he’s doing [Thursday].
How the injury developed is not completely clear.
“He was fine in shootaround [Monday],’’ the coach said. “Over the course of the day, something tightened up on him. He got a little back tightness, went into some spasms, but that seems to be fine. You have to be careful when you’re dealing with a hamstring. And it caused a little knee pain and back [pain] as well.’’
Kirk Hinrich (left quadriceps bruise) is not ready. Nor is Mike Dunleavy, although the team was encouraged that the veteran guard participated fully in practice for the first time since off-season back surgery. Dunleavy could return as early as Sunday against the Clippers, it appears.
“He looked good out there,’’ Hoiberg said. “There’s going to be some rust, no doubt. Today was the first time he really got up and down with our guys. He’ll get two practices out in L.A., and we’ll make a determination from there.’’
On the playing front, the Bulls are trying to figure out the maddening inconsistency that has defined their season. The last two games—an exhilarating win over King James in Cleveland on Saturday and a deflating loss to injury-depleted Miami on Monday—typify the Bulls’ ups and downs.
“There’s frustration, absolutely,’’ said Hoiberg, reciting the Bulls’ seven wins vs. Cleveland, Oklahoma City, the Clippers and Toronto. “When you can have [impressive] games against the top teams in the league, and then to lose four in a row at home. . . it’s the overall inconsistencies. It’s the toughness–not only the physical toughness, but the mental toughness that you have to have to win games in this league.
“It’s a fine line between being a great team and a real average team,’’ Hoiberg added. “We’re teetering on on that line.’’
The Bulls certainly are hard to figure out. They are 3-7 since they had their six-game winning streak ended. Their four-game home losing streak leaves them 16-9 at the United Center.
Ordinarily, an extended road trip would seem ominous. On the other hand, the Clippers are the only team among the seven they’ll face on this trip that has a winning record.’’
Hoiberg hopes the road trip will help the Bulls become a more cohesive—and consistent—group.
“You never want to go for seven, but it’s an opportunity for the guys to bond on the road. And we’ll have two good days to practice in L.A.’’
NOTE: Joakim Noah watched practice his left arm in a sling after returning on Monday from New York, where he underwent shoulder surgery. The injury not only is season-ending for Noah, who has spent his entire nine-year NBA career with the Bulls. With his contract up, Noah faces an uncertain future. But he said he’d like to remain in Chicago.
“I hope so,’’ he said. “I’m not trying to focus on the future. I just had season-ending surgery last week. But this is all I know. Right now, it’s all about getting healthy and then we’ll go from there.’’
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