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BULLS IN BRIEF: Boozer could return to practice next week

PHOENIX -- After concluding this seven-game road trip Saturday in Sacramento, the Bulls return home Sunday. They will practice on Monday and Tuesday before facing the Orlando Magic on Wednesday at the United Center.

Tuesday will mark eight weeks since Carlos Boozer had surgery on his broken right hand, and that's the optimal target date the power forward said the team doctors have established for him to begin participating in contact drills during practice.

But even if Boozer practices Tuesday -- which isn't a sure thing -- it's doubtful he'll be ready to play against the Magic.

Boozer will need several practices to develop a rhythm after being idle for so long. It's likely he won't see any game action until at least Dec. 10 or 11 when the Bulls host the Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves.

In that scenario, Boozer would have four practices under his belt before playing in a game. The multiple practice sessions also will allow Boozer to get used to a protective guard on his hand.Rematch vs. Lakers

The Bulls came up short in their quest to beat the Lakers on Tuesday in Los Angeles, but the Bulls won't have to wait long for a rematch. The teams play again Dec. 10 at the United Center.

The Lakers have won seven straight games against the Bulls.

Center Joakim Noah is looking forward to having another shot at the defending NBA champions.

''We'll see them in a couple of weeks,'' Noah said. ''When we play a game like that [a 98-91 loss], the way we played, I feel confident that we have a chance in a couple of weeks to get a win against them.''No second-guessing

The Lakers were able to exploit the Bulls' aggressive double-teaming of Kobe Bryant down the stretch.

Bryant passed out, and his teammates hit three wide-open three-pointers during a decisive 17-2 run.

Still, Derrick Rose said the Bulls had the right strategy and he would double Bryant again.

''You've got to,'' Rose said. ''That's Kobe Bryant. You've got to double-team him. No matter what, he knows how to close a game. The bench beat us. We'll take that any night, but you can't let him do it.''