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Bulls aren’t soft, Tom Thibodeau says

Chicago Bulls Vs Dallas Mavericks 1 St-Half Action. Bulls No.1 Derrick Rose shoots over two Dallas Mavericks No.3 Rodrigue Beaubois

Chicago Bulls Vs Dallas Mavericks 1 St-Half Action. Bulls No.1 Derrick Rose shoots over two Dallas Mavericks No.3 Rodrigue Beaubois and No.28 Ian Mahinmi. I Scott Stewart/Sun-Times

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Updated: May 24, 2012 8:23AM

Coach Tom Thibodeau acknowledged after the loss Thursday against the Heat in Miami that his team didn’t respond well enough to the physical play, but that doesn’t mean he thinks the Bulls are soft.

“When you look at the strength of the club, we’ve been a defensive team, we’ve been a rebounding team for a long time,” Thibodeau said. “We’ve been a dominant rebounding team. You can’t be a dominant rebounding team being soft, I know that. I wouldn’t say we’re soft. Were we disappointed with the result in Miami? Yeah. Are we capable of playing a lot better? Yeah. We’re disappointed with our fourth quarter, but we also did a lot of good things in that game. That was a winnable game in the fourth quarter. We’re going to make some corrections and move forward.”

John Lucas III got flattened by LeBron James on a screen and was pushed when he tried to approach James afterward. It was one of several altercations in a game that set the tone for what could be another memorable Eastern Conference finals if both teams avoid upsets.

“If they want to get physical, we can get physical right back,” Lucas said. “If that’s the type of game they want, then that’s the type of game we’re going to bring. That’s our mentality. That’s not something we need to work on.”

Braced for success

Derrick Rose normally doesn’t tape his ankles but wears an ankle brace instead. It has been suggested that having his ankle taped before he returned to the starting lineup in the overtime victory last Sunday over the Pistons might have contributed to him reaggravating his ankle injury, causing him to miss three consecutive games, although Thibodeau has denied that.

“I wouldn’t say that,” Rose said when asked if taping his ankle caused a problem. “Just playing, getting my minutes back, overtime, playing the way that I play, perhaps it had to do with more than the tape.”

Rose did say he would wear an ankle brace instead of having the ankle taped against the Mavericks.

Deng OK, Wade hurt

It took seven stitches to close the cut Luol Deng suffered over his left eye against Miami. Otherwise, Deng feels fine despite a torn ligament in his left wrist and sore ribs that forced him to miss two games last week.

With Rose and Rip Hamilton back in the lineup, the Bulls are as healthy as they’ve been all season.

“He says he’s feeling better than he has in a long time,” Thibodeau said.

Meanwhile, Heat guard Dwyane Wade dislocated his left index finger against the Wizards on Saturday night.

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