Refreshed by the All-Star break, the Bulls got back together Wednesday night, looking forward to being healthy for the last 28 games of the regular season.
Derrick Rose missed practice because of an unspecified ‘‘travel issue.’’ But the team, which is 13-3 when it has its regular starting five (Rose, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy, Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah), should have Rose back at practice Thursday.
And, most important, the Bulls would like to be healthy when they resume play on the road Friday against the Detroit Pistons.
‘‘That’s what we’re hoping for,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said after practice at the Advocate Center. ‘‘It hasn’t been that way the whole season. Right now, we hopefully have an opportunity to move forward with everyone. What that allows you to do is improve in all areas and build continuity. The practice component is critical for us. That’s really the only way you can improve.’’
Although everyone at practice did everything, the Bulls still have their bumps and bruises.
But Thibodeau was especially pleased with Butler, who’s working through a right shoulder strain.
‘‘He was great,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘He looked really good. He did everything in practice, scrimmaged well, was attacking. So he looks good.’’
Kirk Hinrich also is trying to shake a lingering turf-toe injury.
‘‘I feel refreshed,’’ Hinrich said. ‘‘The toe’s feeling much better. I’ve had the toe issue for a long time. This year, all year, it’s been a little bit worse. Over the last month and a half, it’s been getting pretty bad. But I’ll see how I feel tomorrow. Hopefully I play Friday.’’
Healthy or not, the Bulls think they can achieve the productive finish they crave.
‘‘We have a lot of confidence,’’ Butler said, ‘‘with the group of guys that we have when everyone’s healthy. But even when guys are out, I think we’re confident in the guys we have. Thibs is always saying we have enough to win. We’ve got a deep team, a team full of NBA players.’’
When healthy, Thibodeau will have some decisions to make about playing time. As always, though, he is a man with a plan.
‘‘You base it on performance,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘If a guy’s playing well, obviously he plays. If he’s not, you look at what the season tells you. Look at Mike [Dunleavy], for example. We’re 25-10 when he plays. With Hinrich, when he plays 30-plus minutes, I think we’re 11-5. You look at everything.’’
Butler is certainly attracting a lot of looks. Coming off of his first All-Star appearance, he has been given a spot on the cover of Sports Illustrated, which tabbed him the NBA’s ‘‘unlikely breakout star’’ in its midseason report.
There should be no worries, though, about Butler getting full of himself.
‘‘When I was a little kid, I just wanted to go to college,’’ said Butler, the pride of Tomball, Texas.
‘‘I wasn’t thinking about this lifestyle, being on the cover of anything, All-Star, playing with any of the guys I’m playing with. I just wanted to get my college degree.’’
With the season he’s having, his Marquette sheepskin might have to make room in the den for a fair amount of basketball hardware.