Derrick Rose out vs. Celts

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose did not play Thursday night against the Boston Celtics because of back spasms. It marked the fourth consecutive contest the reigning MVP has missed.

Rose had been considered a game-time decision earlier Thursday. He shot free throws but did not run during the team's morning shootaround.

For the Celtics, coach Doc Rivers said before the game that Kevin Garnett would play after missing Wednesday night's game.

"Kevin, when he wants to play, he lets you know he wants to play," said Rivers. "And when we got on the plane last night, and I had literally left it up to him, to be on or not, for his body's sake, he was waiting for all of us. So that was good."

In his pregame media session, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau indicated Rose isn't far from returning to the court.

"He went through his workout," Thibodeau said. "Didn't have any problems. Feeling a lot better. But we're just going to wait. See how it goes [Friday]."

"We want him to be pain-free and he's very close. We're just going to take it day by day."

Thibodeau added that the decision to keep Rose out of the lineup Thursday was a "compilation" of opinions.

"His input's important," Thibodeau said. "Our doctors, our trainers, very important. Just looking at the total picture."

Prior to Thursday, the 23-year-old had missed eight games this season, including five with turf toe, and he's not happy about sitting.

"It's killing me right now," he said. "Definitely missing these games. Especially these big games. Playing against Boston and all the other teams I didn't get a chance to play against this year. It's definitely hurting me, but just try to stay focused, keep my head right and trying to get better."

Interestingly, Chicago is 6-2 in the eight games that Rose has missed and has a higher per-game averages in points, rebounds, assists and steals than in the 23 games he has played.

An MRI last week revealed no structural damage to his back.

As far as playing in the Feb. 26 All-Star Game, Rose wasn't sure.

"That's too far away to decide on that, but I would love to play in the game," he said.

In addition to Rose, the Bulls again took the floor without shooting guard Rip Hamilton on Thursday night. Hamilton hasn't played since Jan. 29 because of a sore groin. Thibodeau was vague about when Hamilton might return.

"He's doing well," Thibodeau said. He's doing his workouts. He feels a lot better. He's making good progress. So again, we'll be day to day with him as well."

Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com. Information from ESPNBoston.com's Chris Forsberg and ESPN Stats & Information was used in this report.