Thibodeau: Rose 'coming along,' takes contact in practice

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Thibodeau: Rose 'coming along,' takes contact in practice

As expected, Tom Thibodeau played his cards close to the vest, but even the poker-faced Bulls head coach couldnt hide the fact that Derrick Roses sore back is gradually improving. The reigning league MVP participated in Sundays team practice at the Berto Center and took on contact, a significant step in his eventual return to the court after missing five consecutive games with lower back spasms.

He did more today. Coming along, so well see how he is tomorrow, the coach revealed. He took on contact today, so I want to see how he is, how he feels, after the contact."

Thibodeau noted that Rose would warm up prior to Monday afternoon's game against the Hawks (as he did before Saturday's loss to the Nets), however, he wouldnt budge when prodded about when Rose would return or if the Eastern Conference All-Star starter will play before the annual exhibition, held Feb. 26 in Orlando.

When hes ready to play, hes ready to play, whether its tomorrow or later. Im not going to base it on anything other than him being ready to play. Not our opponent, not the All-Star Game, not anything but if hes cleared medically and hes ready to play. Then hell play, said Thibodeau, the East teams coach. Each day hes done more. Hes responded well. He hasnt had any problems, so today was more physical. Defended pick-and-rolls, went one-on-one, defended in the post, played in the post, defended catch-and-shoot. So he did a lot today and well see how he is tomorrow and were going to go from there, but its the next step for us.

Thibodeau did admit that when Rose does return, he could be a bit cautious with the superstar point guards playing time, simply due to conditioning reasons.

His conditioning will probably be affected a little bit and his timing, but hell get that back quickly, said Thibodeau, who noted that Rose did some half-court running. Well see what he can handle.

Watch: Former Bulls center Joakim Noah misses everything with this free-throw attempt

Watch: Former Bulls center Joakim Noah misses everything with this free-throw attempt

We all remember Joakim Noah's twisty-turny tornado shooting style from the free-throw line.

It was funny, and it worked better than you might expect, with Noah's unconventional shooting style from the charity stripe going through the net better than 73 percent of the time over a five-season span from 2009-10 to 2013-14.

But things haven't gone so well there for Noah in his first season with the New York Knicks. Entering Monday night's game, Noah was shooting just 42.9 percent from the free-throw line.

Well, things might've hit rock bottom Monday, with this nasty-looking free-throw try from Noah that missed everything.

Take a look:

Say it ain't so, Jo.

TSN coaches poll: Wild favored to win West over Blackhawks

TSN coaches poll: Wild favored to win West over Blackhawks

The Blackhawks have won three Stanley Cups since 2010, and have eliminated the Minnesota Wild from the playoffs three times from 2013-15.

But it's the Wild that NHL coaches believe will win the Western Conference this season as we approach the trade deadline.

In his annual midseason poll, TSN's Bob McKenzie surveyed 25 of 30 coaches to vote on multiple categories, such as the league's best player and the team most likely to win it all.

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According to the survey, 11 coaches predicted the Wild will win the West while the Blackhawks and Sharks tied for second with four votes.

As for winning the Stanley Cup, the Washington Capitals are the favorite, earning 10 votes, followed closely by the reigning champion Pittsburgh Penguins with eight. The Wild and Blackhawks rounded out the poll with three and two votes, respectively.

Joel Quenneville earned one vote as the NHL's best coach, which is three fewer votes than he had last year, despite this year being arguably his most challenging — and best — coaching job since arriving in Chicago, given the youth on the roster.