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Derrick Rose getting extended time off now could benefit the Bulls later

CHICAGO IL - FEBRUARY 16:  Loul Deng #9 Chicago Bulls drives against Mickael Pietrus #28 BostCeltics United Center February

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 16: Loul Deng #9 of the Chicago Bulls drives against Mickael Pietrus #28 the Boston Celtics at the United Center on February 16, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Celtics 89-80. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Loul Deng; Mickael Pietrus

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Updated: March 19, 2012 10:10AM



Derrick Rose spent a week on the couch, letting his beard grow like a recluse and squinting at the sky on the rare occasions when he did leave his house.

The MVP point guard was exhausted after his team was eliminated from the Eastern Conference Finals by the Miami Heat last season. One of the biggest and often overlooked factors in the Bulls demise was that Rose had trouble summoning the energy required to lift his team over Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh.

Those who like their Bulls coverage served sunny-side up should know there are more positives than negatives related to Rose’s continued absence. Toe-and-back injuries have forced him to miss nine games and yet the Bulls own the league’s best record.

Sitting now could result in a more energized Rose come playoff time. That by itself could prove to be the difference in a much-anticipated Bulls-Heat playoff matchup, but there are other reasons why Rose missing games now could turn out to be the best thing for the Bulls later on.

“Every experience whether it’s good or bad helps this team,” Joakim Noah said. “It’s definitely good for us.”

There may not be a coach or general manager who has had a better opportunity to evaluate their bench than Gar Forman and Tom Thibodeau. Injuries to Rose, Rip Hamilton, Luol Deng, C.J. Watson and Taj Gibson, among others, has forced little used backups into prominent roles --- at least temporarily. There’s value in that. Not only does Thibodeau have a better idea of what players can do if the right matchup presents itself, but those players should have more confidence when called upon in the playoffs.

Although it seems unlikely, if Forman does make a trade, he will be better able to evaluate strengths of players he may be dealing. Potential trade partners have plenty of tape to evaluate Bulls players they may be interested in acquiring.

Rose’s absence has demanded other players elevate their games in order to keep the victories piling up. Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah must play at a championship level for the Bulls to achieve their stated goal of winning the title. They can’t always let the game come to them the way they can when Rose is on the floor.

All three have responded. With Rose looking on from his ergonomically-correct chair behind the Bulls bench, Deng has been instigating the offense. As a result, the first-time All-Star has 46 points, 21 assists and 11 rebounds in back-to-back wins over the Kings and Celtics. Adding that new element to Deng’s game could provide the Bulls with a new wrinkle for the Heat.

Noah is playing as well as ever. He is more polished offensively. He continues to dominate the boards. He doesn’t measure his game in points and rebounds but how he impacts winning. He’s making an impact, all right.

Boozer may have played his best all-around game of the season while posting 23 points, 15 rebounds and five assists on Thursday night.

“We’d rather have Pooh back out there with us,” Boozer said. “He’s taking care of himself. He’s got to take care of his back. Rip’s got to take care of his stuff. When we do get healthy, watch out.”



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