- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEW ORLEANS -- As much as he tries to downplay injuries, Derrick Rose's back is still bothering him. Rose played just 22 minutes in Wednesday night's win over the Hornets, scoring six points.
"The back is kind of tight," Rose said after the game. "Thibs did a great job with managing my minutes right when we saw that we had the game put away."
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau knows he's going to have to keep a close eye on Rose for the next couple of days.
"He says he feels pretty good," Thibodeau said. "So he's just got to each day, do his rehab, take care of himself. Get his rest, get his massage, and we go from there."
Thibs inching closer to All-Star berth: With just a couple more wins, Thibodeau will lock up an All-Star berth of his own. He'll be the head coach for the Eastern Conference All-Stars in Orlando at the end of the month.
"I know that that's something that he'd [like] the honor of doing, coaching that game" Rose said. "But if he's coach and I'm on the team, I'd love it."
So would Luol Deng, another potential All-Star.
"It doesn't get any better than that," Deng said. "Whether I'm there or not. First of all, for Derrick to make it ... Derrick making it and getting MVP, you always feel part of it because you're out there with him every night. And now if the coaches get it, you're even more happy because you've got the best record and your coaches are getting recommended, so it just shows what we're doing in here."
Of course, Thibodeau isn't thinking like that.
"Good try," Thibodeau said, cutting off the question. "The challenge for everybody is to stay focused on what's important. That is only our next game. Study, get ready for Charlotte. If you start looking ahead to the break, or you look behind, that's when you're going to have a misstep. So the challenge is to stay focused on the things that are important which is getting ready for Charlotte. And that's it. Don't get side-tracked. And winning takes care of everything. And that's all we have to take care of. Study."
The last word: "We're playing well right now. We're coming out early, defending, running the floor, getting the lead and playing well with it. We just got to keep doing that," -- Deng.