Despite speculation that Derrick Rose could return to the lineup Monday night against the Denver Nuggets, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Rose, like Taj Gibson and Kirk Hinrich, is still day-to-day.
Rose was a full participant in all of practice, but the decision to play still remains up to him.
“Nothing’s changed,” Thibodeau said. ”He keeps improving, still has a way to go. When he’s ready, he’s ready. He just has to keep working.”
Hinrich didn’t practice and did ‘very little’ according to Thibodeau and Richard Hamilton has improved but still no closer to returning for the Bulls.
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While the Miami Heat have gotten all of the national attention with their 21-game winning streak, the Nuggets come into tomorrow’s matchup with an 11-game winning streak, defeating opponents by an average of 12.5 points during the streak.
“They’re playing at a high level right now,” Thibodeau said. “They’re a very deep team. They’re well balanced. They play inside out, get to the free throw line, they’re real scrappy defensively. I think they really improved defensively and it’s more than just their steals and their blocked shots – which they excel at – but their help [on defense] is very active. They have a lot of weapons.”
The first matchup between the two teams last month saw the Nuggets give the Bulls a 128-96 beating in Denver, which is an opponent season-high in points allowed.
“They’re talented at every position, very athletic,” Joakim Noah said. “Something about playing in Denver, that high altitude, it’s no joke. It’s definitely an advantage for them, even when they come back down to normal levels.
"It’s going to take a great effort from us to compete."
Even though it’s looking like they’ll be playing shorthanded once again, Noah said it’s best that his injured teammates get as healthy as possible before returning, with the playoffs right around the corner.
“It’s important for them to come back healthy and when they’re right,” Noah said. “It’s no time to be playing around, playing games hurt. Those guys have to come back and be ready to help. They have to come back at the right time. I know guys are getting anxious for them to come back. They just have to be smart.