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Tom Thibodeau remains solidly in the corner of Derrick Rose

Updated: June 18, 2013 7:46AM



MIAMI — Even though the ­depleted Bulls’ season ended in frustration with a 94-91 loss Wednesday, coach Tom Thibodeau wouldn’t say Derrick Rose’s rehab from major knee ­surgery didn’t go as well as the team had hoped.

“No. You didn’t know. We didn’t know. He didn’t know,’’ said Thibodeau, noting that owner Jerry Reinsdorf didn’t want Rose to return until he felt right. “He heeded Jerry’s advice from the beginning to not rush it and make sure you’re completely comfortable before you get out there.

“It’s too important a decision for him to rush. Until he’s completely comfortable, we don’t want him out there. We knew this was a possibility, and that’s fine. You deal with it as best you can. We just want him to continue to work like he’s been working.’’

It might not have seem like it now because the undermanned Bulls had scrapped so well. But even with a healthy Rose, they likely would have had difficulty getting past the Miami Heat.

With Luol Deng (spinal tap-related illness) and Kirk Hinrich (bruised left calf) remaining on the sidelines, a difficult challenge shaped up as a monumental one.

Butler did it

Uninterested in embracing the hand-wringing that has enveloped the Bulls because of their injury woes, Thibodeau remained steadfast in saying even such an epidemic of medical issues is just part of the game.

“Whatever your circumstances are, you have to make the best of those circumstances,’’ he said. “There have been positives out of [the injuries], as well. A guy like Jimmy Butler has gotten a great opportunity. He has really come on for us. That was a byproduct of guys being out.’’

Butler’s emergence gives the Bulls another quality two-way wing who can complement Deng or give the team more flexibility in personnel moves as it moves forward.

“We knew going into the season what we were going be challenged with,’’ Thibodeau said. “You’re never going to replace a guy like Derrick individually. We understood that. For us, it was everybody functioning well as a team. Knowing what your job is and going out and doing your job. Unfortunately, we took more hits along the way.’’

The latest impact injury is the left-shoulder problem of Nate Robinson. Although the gritty point guard remained in the starting lineup for Game 5, the shoulder clearly was a big issue when he went 0-for-12 in Game 4.

Wade plays

As Thibodeau expected, ­Dwyane Wade started despite a knee injury. With or without Wade, the Heat is a handful.

“They’re so deep,’’ Thibodeau said “If Dwyane is out, you’re talking about a Hall of Fame player [coming in]. Ray Allen is a big shotmaker. This team is very deep and talented and committed. They’re the defending champion, and everyone’s chasing them.’’



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