Derrick Rose unsure of return date

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose missed his 10th consecutive game Sunday afternoon because of a groin injury. He remains unsure of when he'll return to the floor, but he doesn't expect to miss the remainder of the regular season.

Rose, the NBA's reigning MVP, injured his groin in a March 12 game against the New York Knicks and admitted there was some bleeding in the area after the contest.

"It's the same thing every day, just trying to improve," Rose said after the Bulls' 92-78 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. "Where (I'm running) a little bit more and lifting weights so if anything I should be stronger than ever."

Rose hasn't taken any contact in practice since the injury and admitted that he is still having a hard time running while the scar tissue continues to break up. Even still, he doesn't think the injury will keep him out until the playoffs commence in late April.

"I think so," he said when asked if he'll return before the playoffs begin. "I think so, if it's up to me. So yeah, I think I am."

Rose has now missed 20 games on the year because of various injuries. Upon his yet-to-be-known return date, Rose isn't sure how long it will take him to get back in rhythm.

"I really don't know," he said. "If I knew that answer, it would make a lot of things easy. I don't know. It's going to take me a minute to get my rhythm back, but hopefully it takes a game, that would be great, but we will have to see."

Rose also said the injury was worse than he initially thought.

"Yeah, it definitely is," he said. "Missing this amount of games. It definitely hurts, but if anything I'm hoping that it's a blessing in disguise where the only positive thing I can look at is (that) I'm getting my rest a little bit."

The other hobbled half of the Bulls' backcourt -- guard Rip Hamilton -- appears closer to returning.
Hamilton missed his 14th consecutive game because of an injured shoulder on Sunday, but both he and coach Tom Thibodeau have spoken optimistically about his prognosis in recent days.

"I know it's one of them things that we don't really know, from the (aspect) of getting hits and stuff like that," Hamilton said of his shoulder. "We did some three on three ... but I told him I'm comfortable with whatever he wants to do. If we need to get out there and shoot more or take a couple more hits, it's whatever."

Hamilton is hopeful he will be able to play Monday night against the Houston Rockets. But the final decision is Thibodeau's.

"We'll see (Monday)," Thibodeau said. "He's feeling pretty good, but I just want to make sure. I think we have to play this smart."

"He's doing fine. I'm the one that's (being cautious). He's raring to go. He's chomping at the bit, so we'll see."

Considered the Bulls' marquee free-agent acquisition this past offseason, Hamilton has missed all but 16 games. He is hoping he gets the chance to help out his teammates after sitting out for so long.

"It's very different," he said of his injury situation. "My mindset is if I can shoot, I can play. That's always been my mindset; if I can run up the court, I'm cool to play. I was a little stubborn the first time (I tried to come back) so I'll leave it up to Coach and them to put me out there when it's time."