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Derrick Rose remains hot topic, just not one Bulls want to continue to address

CHICAGO – The daily soap opera that is Derrick Rose’s potential return remains at center stage in the Eastern Conference semifinals against Miami.

Rose practiced Friday at the Berto Center and then warmed up alone 30 minutes before the start of Game 3, continuing his recovery from a torn ACL that has forced him to miss the entire season. Rose has remained non-committal about whether he could – or would – return against the Heat.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau won’t allow his team to get wrapped up in possible scenarios concerning the potential for a Rose return while trying to handle the Heat with an already depleted lineup.

“The way we approached it is that the players that are available concentrate on daily improvement and the next opponent and let Derrick handle his rehab and then hopfully, at some point – whether it’s next week, next year – he’ll rejoin us,” Thibodeau said before Friday’s Game 3 at the United Center. “But for the guys who are here, we’ve got to get it done with what we have. And we have more than enough to win.”

Getting healthier: Guard Kirk Hinrich didn’t play in Game 3 along with Rose and forward Luol Deng. Hinrich is suffering from a bruised calf that has required him to undergo two MRIs and that has left his return to the lineup uncertain.

Thibodeau didn’t rule out the possibility of Hinrich returning for Monday’s Game 4 in Chicago.

“We’re hopeful,” Thibodeau said. “He is improving and that’s a good sign.”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was asked in Friday’s pregame news conference was if he’d rather face the Bulls at full strength rather than the one Miami has dealt with since the start of the series. His response suggested help may be on the way for the Bulls in future games.

“I haven’t given that much thought,” Spoelstra said. “We’ll face whoever we have to face and right now, we know who will play (Friday) night and the next game, we’re not sure. But we just have to focus on who they’ll have available.”

Do the crime, pay the fine: Bulls forward Taj Gibson was fined $25,000 for his verbal abuse of referee Scott Foster and not leaving the floor in a timely fashion during the Bulls’ blowout Game 2 loss. Gibson was assessed a technical foul and then continued to berate Foster, which drew him a second technical and led to an ejection. Joakim Noah also was ejected, but he was not fined.

Gibson said he tried to be honest with his emotions before being ejected but over-reacted and “probably could have handled it better.”

“I wasn’t surprised. I was waiting for the verdict, but I knew I was going to get hit,” Gibson said before Friday’s game. “I was just hoping it wasn’t a suspension. But I deserved it.”

Thibodeau declined to comment on the fine Friday night, but said his team had to play under more control without getting wrapped up with the officiating. The Bulls were hit with six technicals in Game 2.

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