The Heat's Udonis Haslem (left) and C.J. Watson go after a loose ball in the first half. | Wilfredo Lee~AP
Updated: May 21, 2012 9:00AM
MIAMI — Derrick Rose limped off the bus and into the arena. He limped from the coaches office to the training room, making Tom Thibodeau’s pregame announcement that his star point guard would miss his third straight game with a foot injury and his 26th overall anticlimactic.
Thibodeau worries about everything all the time. Others in the Bulls organization are confident Rose will be able to return for the final two games of the regular season against the Pacers and Cavaliers on Wednesday or Thursday, if not before. While not ideal, it would still give Rose two games to acclimate himself before the postseason begins.
TNT reported during the game that fluid in Rose’s ankle was caused by it being wrapped too tight in Sunday’s win over the Pistons.
“I haven’t heard that,” Thibodeau said. “I don’t know where that comes from. We have a great medical staff, I know that.”
Not in jeopardy
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said the Bulls relentlessness on the boards may have contributed to James Jones being whistled for a flagrant foul on Joakim Noah and being ejected in the second quarter.
“A big part of the game is meeting them body to body and I’m sure that’s what Jones was intending to do,” he said. “It’s a physical game. You can ask the players on both sides. I don’t think it was in jeopardy of turning into anything but a basketball game.”
A deep team
Heat forward Shane Battier believes the Bulls will be better than ever when Rose returns.
“They are different and they are almost more dangerous in a way because they have done so much without Rose this year,” the Heat forward said. “They can win despite having their best player out. Depending on his health, when he comes back, you’re dealing with a confident group.”
Dwyane Wade gave credit to C.J. Watson, John Lucas III and Thibodeau.
“Look at their record,” he said. “Rose has missed half the season, so you have to give credit where credit is due. Those guys can play basketball. They are not Derrick Rose. They are not high flying, but they get the job done.”
Lucas logs minutes
The starting backcourt of Rip Hamilton and Watson combined for eight points and five assists. Lucas saw extended playing time in the second half after Watson picked up his fourth foul.
Lucas had 16 points (5 of 16).
“He picked up his fourth and we were searching for some scoring,” Thibodeau said. “It was more C.J. picking up those fouls and then John started scoring some.”