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Healthier Bulls searching for continuity

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bulls are getting healthy at seemingly the right time of the season.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau doesn’t want to hear about that, though.

“I don’t get wrapped up in the talk,” Thibodeau said after practice on Friday. “I want to see performance. I want to see the work go into it. I know how you win. We have to be more concerned with the process of how we’re approaching it and are we putting the work in to give ourselves the best chance possible. Talk is talk. I want to see action.”

Some of the optimism surrounding the Bulls is based on action, especially in the case of Jimmy Butler. He scored 23 points on 7-of-8 shooting Wednesday in his second game back after missing three weeks because of an elbow injury.

Forward Taj Gibson is also slowly getting back into form after missing nearly a month with a left ankle injury. Doug McDermott practiced Friday as well after recently dealing with a back issue.

“Yeah, it’s very important,” Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy said of players returning. “Jimmy looks good for being out so long. Taj is working his way back. Obviously, we have one more guy we’re waiting on. But to get these guys back and also get a little time in practice the next 10 days, two weeks will be good.

“We want to be playing our best basketball heading into the playoffs and heading into April. We still have time to do that. I think we’re trending in that direction. Winning four of five is pretty good, just keep going in that direction.”

That one guy still missing is obviously Derrick Rose. Rose, who is still restricted from contact, was the lone player not to participate fully in practice on Friday. Thibodeau said Rose could begin taking contact next week.

“Most likely it will be next week, but I don’t want to jump ahead,” Thibodeau said.

Dunleavy thought Rose has appeared fine during non-contact drills, but he also acknowledged that meant little at the end of the day.

“He looks good,” Dunleavy said. “But unfortunately the games are full contact. He’s got to be looking good when he starts doing contact and practicing and that will come in due time. Hopefully in time for our playoff run.”

The Bulls still hope Rose returns this season, but for now they’re concentrating on creating some chemistry among their healthy players. It’s been a season full of injuries, and the Bulls haven’t been healthy enough to create a consistent rhythm. It’s part of the reason why Thibodeau took advantage of their practice time Friday to scrimmage.

“It was good because it gives us a chance to build some continuity,” Thibodeau said. “We have to concentrate on the guys we do have and we have to improve. There’s a lot of areas to clean up and try to build continuity. We’ve had guys in and out all year.”

Dunleavy understood why some would question whether the Bulls have played enough together to be in sync when the playoffs do arrive. He thought their level of talent could overcome that.

“I’m sure that argument can definitely be made,” Dunleavy said. “We haven’t had a lot of time together. We got a lot of guys that can really play. My thought would be somehow, someway we can get in a lineup in there that will figure it out and be pretty good down the stretch.”