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Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Joakim Noah out vs. Raptors

By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- The setback Joakim Noah suffered with plantar fasciitis in his right foot could leave the Chicago Bulls' big man out for the rest of the regular season, while potentially jeopardizing the All-Star's playing time in the playoffs.

Noah said Tuesday that he received a cortisone shot in the injured foot, and when asked if he plans on playing in any of the Bulls' final six regular-season games, said he was taking things "day by day."

Meanwhile, Rip Hamilton will return vs. the Raptors after missing the past 19 games because of a lower-back injury.

Coach Tom Thibodeau confirmed at shootaround that Noah will not be available to play in Tuesday night's home game against the Toronto Raptors

When asked if Noah will miss the rest of the regular season, Thibodeau said he didn't "want to go there."

Noah returned to the lineup Sunday at Detroit after an eight-game absence. He played 21 minutes and afterward reported no issues.

"He said he felt good during the game and then after he felt it stiffen up a little bit and the next day was the problem," Thibodeau said. "Hopefully he will respond to the latest treatment and we'll go from there."

Noah's setback isn't necessarily as bad as the original injury that forced him to miss games in March.

"It was enough where we were concerned," Thibodeau said. "We don't want him out there if he's injured. The time he was out [of action] he put a lot of time into his rehab so he's somewhat discouraged, but he can't be discouraged. He just has to keep doing what he's doing and hopefully he'll be ready to go before the end of the season."

Thibodeau seems more optimistic that other injured Bulls players can return before the regular season ends. Derrick Rose's status remains in doubt after his knee injury from last season's playoffs, but Taj Gibson (knee) and Luol Deng (hip) could be back soon. They won't be playing Tuesday night, however.

"Taj is a lot better, Lou is better," Thibodeau said. "[Noah] is the tricky one. I'm hopeful that he's going to respond well. He's doing everything he can to get back out there, but you have to wait and see on that. As I told him, I don't want him out there if he's injured. That's important. He's working hard on his rehab and hopefully it will respond."

Hamilton's return was a surprise.

"He's going to have a chance to play some minutes," Thibodeau said. "Not a lot. He's come along. He's feeling better, so we'll see where he is.

"It's one thing to be able to do that in practice and it's another to be able to do it in a game, and then of course, we have to see how he responds tomorrow after the game. But we're glad that he's back."

Thibodeau indicated last week that Hamilton was a ways from returning, but things have changed in recent days for the 35-year-old.

"Because I wanted to see him more against contact," Thibodeau said, while describing what changed in regards to Hamilton's status. "He's actually moved along quite well. And again, we don't want to put guys out there who are injured, so we wanted to make sure that he was ready to make the next step. At this time of the year it's important to be patent."

Hamilton has missed 32 games this year and 38 games last year because of various injuries.

"He has been down for a while now," Thibodeau said. "We had to get his back to calm down. He's been running for a while, shooting for a while and now he's doing everything in practice. The next step is to play, so we'll see where he is. He's been out a long time, so there is going to be rust but he's an excellent playmaker and he has the ability to make other people better."