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NEW YORK (AP) – Derrick Rose returned to Chicago’s lineup Sunday at New York, giving the Bulls their projected starting five for just the 11th time this season.
Rose missed 12 straight games with a strained right groin and has been sidelined 22 times this season because of a variety of injuries.
Coach Tom Thibodeau said the point guard would probably play a “little shorter than normal” but wouldn’t know for sure what Rose could handle until he got on the floor.
“He’s handled the practice part of it well. He’s done a great job with his conditioning, he’s taken on the contact, he’s been fine with that, and so we’ll just see how he is once he’s out there playing,” Thibodeau said.
Rose last played March 13, scoring 32 points to lead the Bulls to a 104-99 victory over the Knicks. He’s also been sidelined this season by back and toe injuries.
“What he’s done in the past whenever he’s missed time, he’s always come back very strong and picked things up very quickly, so he’ll be OK,” Thibodeau said.
The Bulls had the reigning MVP in the lineup for the afternoon tip with Richard Hamilton, Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng for the first time since March 5 against Indiana. Hamilton left that game in the opening minutes with a right shoulder injury and only recently returned.
The Bulls are 9-1 with their top group.
Despite the injuries, Chicago entered the game with an NBA-best 43-13 record. The Bulls had 10 games left in the regular season, counting Sunday’s opener of a home-and-home series.
“You only can control what you can control,” Thibodeau said. “Injuries are part of it. The good thing is that a number of guys had an opportunity to play and that’s the way you have to look at it. Derrick and Rip are fresh, so that’s good, and now they have to get their time.”
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