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Bulls’ Derrick Rose likely to play despite sore ankle

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

The Bulls confined their workout Sunday to film study and a walkthrough. Which meant that Derrick Rose, who wore a walking boot to help his sprained left ankle heal, didn’t miss anything.

The MVP front-runner seldom does.

‘‘He says he’s fine,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said, adding that trainer Fred Tedeschi ‘‘says he has a little soreness, but he says he’s fine. The swelling’s not bad.’’

Although an X-ray already was negative, Rose left the Berto Center after practice for a precautionary MRI exam. He is expected to be ready when the Bulls, who are up 3-1, try to close out the Indiana Pacers at the United Center on Tuesday. Tipoff has been set at 7 p.m.

‘‘Knowing Derrick, he’s going to play,’’ forward Taj Gibson said. ‘‘I know he’s not going to sit out a big-time game like this.’’

Pencil in Rose, who played 431/2 minutes even though he rolled the ankle making a hard cut to the basket late in the first quarter, to play through the problem.

In case Rose needs more breaks, though, backup point guard C.J. Watson could see more playing time. Watson, who scored 33 points in his only start of the season, at Denver, said he’d welcome the opportunity.

Although he has played primarily with the second team this season, he said he’d have no problem meshing with the starters.

‘‘It’s still basketball,’’ Watson said. ‘‘I’ve been practicing with them the whole year. I just have to play my game. Whenever I get the minutes, go out there and be productive.’’

Like Gibson, who’s averaging 15.3 minutes in the playoffs after playing 21.8 minutes during the regular season, Watson is adjusting to a ­reduced role. He has dropped to 7.5 minutes after playing 13.3 regular-season minutes.

‘‘It’s disappointing and frustrating at the same time,’’ Watson said. ‘‘But we knew once the playoffs came, coach would cut the minutes down. We just have do what we can in the little minutes we do have.’’

The Bench Mob understands that the Pacers’ series is better suited to the starters, and has been doing its best to adjust to its reduced role.

‘‘We’ve been staying ready,’’ Gibson said. ‘‘Hopefully, if we get this win Tuesday, we’ll be able to get back to our normal rotation. But as long as we win, that’s all that matters.’’

The next question is what the Bulls need to do to put away the pesky Pacers, who finally broke through in Game 4 after blowing leads in the first three games.

One thing they apparently need to do is listen more to Thibodeau than Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen on the subject of hard fouls.

In light of the way the Pacers have been hammering Rose, Pippen is among the fans and media who believe the Bulls aren’t matching Indiana’s rough stuff.

‘‘You don’t give up layups in the playoffs,’’ Pippen said. ‘‘You knock a guy down and you make them go to the foul line and earn it. That’s what Derrick’s doing for the Bulls. And to me, it’s an eye for an eye.’’

Thibodeau is counseling against that.

‘‘In this league, you can’t do that,’’ Gibson said. ‘‘Nowadays, you look at the fines, the technicals being called. You can’t afford to lose players late. Thibs has been telling us to play with aggression. Don’t worry what the fans are saying. Just play our game.’’

Pippen, though, wants to see Rose backed up by his teammates.

‘‘They’ve all got two legs and two arms,’’ the six-time NBA champion said. ‘‘You’ve got Carlos Boozer out there who’s spending fouls and a lot of his fouls are not needed at the time that he’s giving them. Those could be hard fouls. Those could be fouls that you knock a [Darren] Collison to the floor, you knock a [Jeff] Foster to the floor.

‘‘Utilize your fouls and make them more valuable for you and your team.’’

Thibodeau wants to see all-around aggressiveness, rather than retribution.

‘‘It’s playoff basketball,’’ the coach said. ‘‘You have to play hard all the time. You have to have great urgency. And we have to be ready at the start of the game. That’s the big thing. We have to do a better job of starting the game.’’

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