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Derrick Rose’s elbow better, but it’s still sore

Magic coach Stan Van Gundy says Bulls are ‘‘very very lucky’’ have Derrick Rose. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Magic coach Stan Van Gundy says the Bulls are ‘‘very, very lucky’’ to have Derrick Rose. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Bulls at Magic

The facts: 7, Ch. 26, ESPN, 1000-AM.

Updated: February 7, 2012 8:25AM

ORLANDO, Fla. — Derrick Rose was still sore, but he had more mobility in his left elbow than he did after injuring it Wednesday against the Detroit Pistons, a person with knowledge of the situation said.

Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy is preparing as though Rose will play when his 5-2 Magic hosts the 6-1 Bulls on Friday.

‘‘He’s an exceptional player, and .  .  . I think he has an exceptional attitude also,’’ Van Gundy said. ‘‘He’s a different breed. He’s all about winning and the team and trying to do what he can to get better. He’s the real deal as a player and a person and a teammate. They’re very, very lucky to have him.’’

Rose drove hard to the basket, was fouled by the Pistons’ Damien Wilkins and came down hard on his left elbow late in the Bulls’
99-83 victory. X-rays were negative, but he was in obvious pain while trying to dress himself in the locker room afterward.

The Bulls didn’t practice Thursday, and Rose and coach Tom Thibodeau were unavailable for comment.

Van Gundy, however, said Rose’s improved three-point shooting might make him a better all-around player than he was when he was voted the NBA’s most valuable player last season.

‘‘There’s no question he’s shooting the ball from distance better,’’ Van Gundy said. ‘‘He’ll continue to get better because he just seems to me to be the kind of guy who is still trying to get better. He doesn’t seem to be the kind of guy who thinks he has all the answers and is all wrapped up in his greatness. He seems like a guy who’s trying to get better all the time, so why wouldn’t he get better? He’s willing to work, and he’s got the right attitude. He’s a hell of a player.’’

Howard to Chicago?

With the Bulls in town, it was only natural that Magic center Dwight Howard — who is eligible to become a free agent after this season — was asked about the possibility of landing in Chicago.

Howard has made it known he only wants to be traded to the New Jersey Nets, Dallas Mavericks or Los Angeles Lakers, but Magic general manager Otis Smith is talking with teams not on Howard’s wish list, too, hoping another club might be willing to trade for him and gamble that it can sign him to a long-term deal. The Bulls are monitoring the situation.

‘‘We’re not talking trades,’’ Howard said when asked about his interest in the Bulls.

Tough assignment

Center Joakim Noah and forward Carlos Boozer will have their hands full with Howard, who is averaging 19 points and 16 rebounds, but they might be coming off their best game together. They combined for 32 points and 18 rebounds against the Pistons.

‘‘They played really hard,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘I thought Jo was great in the fourth quarter, making great decisions. He got the ball in the middle of the floor, and he found Carlos open. He made the right play. That’s one of his strengths. When he keeps it simple like that, he’s really tough. He’s got a great skill set. He’s a little different for a big.’’

Van Gundy said the key for the Magic is to keep Noah and backup center Omer Asik on the move.

‘‘They can be very aggressive defensively with their bigs, and because they have so many, foul trouble isn’t really an issue,’’ he said. ‘‘They’re 10 deep with good players. That’s one of the reasons they had the best record in the league a year ago. They’ll certainly be among those teams right up there this year. They have great players, great size and great depth.’’

Praise for Deng

Forward Luol Deng’s goal is to make the All-Defensive team this season. Van Gundy said Deng should have been selected last season.

‘‘Luol Deng was very underrated last year,’’ Van Gundy said. ‘‘To not make the All-Defensive team, I thought was absurd for him not to make it.’’

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