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Derrick Rose rules himself out again, then Bulls fall to Heat

Derrick Rose wasn’t trying to be flippant in his response, as much as he was just trying to answer the question.

Asked the difference in finishing eighth in the Eastern Conference standings compared to ninth, the Bulls guard responded, “Eighth and ninth? One is in [the playoffs] and one is out.’’

After a 118-96 loss to the Miami Heat at the United Center on Friday, the Bulls remained in that not-so-friendly latter spot.

Even with Detroit losing to Charlotte earlier in the night, the Bulls stayed on the outside looking in with a 32-32 record.

But Rose talk wasn’t done there.

It was announced earlier in the day that Rose (groin) would be questionable for the key matchup with Miami, but after he went through treatments and warm-ups, questionable was downgraded to out as the game neared.

Simple, right?

Nothing usually is with Rose.

Coach Fred Hoiberg said it was a team decision to keep Rose out. However, like Rose said two weeks ago when his hamstring was acting up, he made it very clear that it was again his decision.

“Frustrating? I wouldn’t say it’s frustrating,’’ Rose said of the latest setback. “I’m controlling all I can control. Try my hardest to be out there, but like I said the reality of it is stuff like this happens.’’

Asked if it was his call, Rose said, “Yeah, just listening to my body. I think that nobody knows my body but me, so just trying to listen to it.’’

Hoiberg tried to make it sound like the team was on board, or maybe he was just trying to play shield for Rose and the criticism that seems to follow whenever the guard rules himself out of games.

“It’s everybody’s decision with the way he feels,’’ Hoiberg said. “He does have a strain in there. I don’t know how serious or long he’ll be out. It’s a day-to-day type thing is what it looks like right now. Just try and keep him moving, keep him loose, but right now the decision was made with everybody that the right thing to do was not play him [Friday].’’

A critical time for an injury, especially with Jimmy Butler still getting over his left knee strain, and not likely to return until Monday in Toronto.

Not that Rose was going to panic.

Like he said a few weeks back, if his body doesn’t feel right he’s not going to push it. The importance of a March game with playoff implications will not change that.

Asked if his team was still lingering in that No. 8 or 9 spot at the end of March, would he be more likely to play through tweaks considering what’s at stake, Rose said, “Just keep doing what I’m doing. I don’t answer if questions. Ifs never happen.’’

Rose did say that the plan was to have him back up and running by Monday, but again, made no promises.

As far as what happened against Miami? Very little, especially in the fourth quarter when the Bulls were outscored 34-15.

And like it was Thursday night in San Antonio, turnovers were again an issue. Miami forced the Bulls into 18 turnovers and scored 19 points off of them. The Bulls forced just eight turnovers.

“We made mistakes, they capitalized,’’ Pau Gasol said of the latest loss. “They busted the game open, got going, made shots, and the game was over.’’