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Bulls have everyone back at full strength — well, almost

Forward Carlos Boozer (sore right knee) didn’t practice Friday but injury isn’t thought be serious. | Danny Johnston/AP

Forward Carlos Boozer (sore right knee) didn’t practice Friday, but the injury isn’t thought to be serious. | Danny Johnston/AP

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Updated: February 5, 2014 6:06AM

Carlos Boozer was sidelined with a sore right knee Friday and didn’t practice.

His teammates didn’t flinch.

Welcome to Bulls basketball 2013-14, where an empty training room means there must’ve been a bomb scare.

“Everyone is back now, so we have to get going,’’ Taj Gibson said. “It’s that time of year. As a matter of fact, we’re past due.’’

Injuries are a big reason why. Derrick Rose is lost for the season, but this was the first week in a while that everyone else was upright, healthy and playing. And while the news on Boozer was a bit of a surprise, it wasn’t thought to be anything major, coach Tom Thibodeau said.

“You just hit on it — everyone is back now,’’ Thibodeau said after practice Friday. “So that’s the important thing, to keep putting the work in that’s necessary to win. And I think we’re moving in the right direction. I think we’ve improved in a lot of areas. We know we have a long way to go, and there are a number of things we have to do better. We have to continue to take it step by step.

“I think you can’t start looking down the road or behind at what may have been missed. You have to concentrate on your improvement and move forward from there. Now that we have everyone, it allows you to get into a rhythm offensively and defensively.’’

And besides that, looking back would only be a reminder of the nightmare that has plagued this team since Rose tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in the 2012 playoffs. Rose hasn’t been the same player since, and the Bulls haven’t been the same team.

Plantar fasciitis, spinal taps gone awry, groin pulls, back issues, elbow strains, pick an injury, and some Bull has come down with it.

This week, however, there was some normalcy. Rose is out, but all the other pieces are back now that Luol Deng’s Achilles soreness is behind him.

That’s why the Bulls have been talking about their place in the standings at 13-18 and a playoff run.

“Yeah, I think the fact we’ve been through it,’’ Thibodeau said of his core remaining confident it can make some noise in the playoffs. “Now we didn’t have all the injuries early on like we did this year, so that’s different. But I think there’s a belief that with everyone back, we can be successful. But we have to put the work in. You can’t skip the work part of it.

“The work part together is the important thing. And I like where we are right now. I like that guys feel good. Hopefully, we can remain healthy and just move forward from there.’’

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