Derrick Rose scored 29 points against the Knicks after missing 12 games with a groin injury. After sitting out another game because of a twisted ankle, he scored only two points on 1-for-13 shooting in Thursday’s overtime win over the Heat at the United Center.
Rose cited his sore right ankle as the reason for that disparity. The nagging injury was wrapped in ice after Rose practiced and studied film with coach Tom Thibodeau on Saturday at the Berto Center.
“My ankle hurting and you can’t move,” Rose said when asked why he was less effective against Miami. “You know how a sore ankle is. The bone is tender. You can’t get around like that. It was just one of those games. Amnesia. I forgot about that game and went on to the next one.”
Rose has been shooting, running, practicing his runner and playing one-on-one and three-on-three in anticipation of Sunday’s game in Detroit.
“When I was out there it was definitely sore,” Rose said. “Ankle injuries are definitely going to be sore. If you play basketball, you know that. Right now, it’s getting better. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make some shots [Sunday].”
With seven games left and the Bulls all but assured of the top seed in the Eastern Conference, Thibodeau must decide how he wants to approach the rest of the season. Rose and Rip Hamilton have returned from long absences because of injuries and need time to play together before the playoffs.
“We have a lot of guys who have not played a lot of minutes when you look at total minutes, which is what I look at,” Thibodeau said. “We need guys to get in rhythm now, so that’s what we’re focused on. We want to continue to improve. We want to be playing our best basketball. We also need to have our health. We’re prioritizing those two things.”
Hamilton played about 20 minutes per game in his first four games after returning from a shoulder injury. He logged more than 24 minutes against the Heat and can expect to see his minutes extended as the season winds down. He played 14 consecutive minutes in the second half against Miami, which is a sign of improved conditioning.
Hamilton doesn’t have to play major minutes to be effective with Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer and rookie Jimmy Butler also on the roster. He had 20 points in just over 20 minutes against the Knicks on Tuesday, which is the kind of efficiency Thibodeau wants to see.
“When he’s on the floor, he opens things up for people,” Thibodeau said. “He’s great moving without the ball. He gets transition baskets and with his catch-and-shoot game, he allows us to play off of that. Both he and Kyle get double teamed every time they’re coming off a screen and they have the responsibility to make the right play. Rip has been around a long time. He’s seen all the different defenses. He knows where the holes are. He’s very unselfish.”
Rose said his conditioning has been better than he expected.
“The conditioning component is big,” Thibodeau said, referring to Hamilton. “When you’ve missed the amount of time that he’s missed and Derrick has missed you’re concerned about that. You have to get that up to speed.”