NBA: Time getting short for Bulls

Derrick Rose traveled to Charlotte with the Bulls Tuesday and is day-to-day with his right foot injury, which tests revealed isn’t serious. That’s the good news.

The bad news is the Bulls have just five regular-season games remaining for Rose to regain his rhythm and timing after his stop-and-start season.

And less than that if Rose sits Wednesday night, which is certainly possible given the way he limped around the United Center on Monday.

Rose’s season has featured five injuries, 24 missed games and only three appearances – and 105 minutes – in the last 17 games.

“I’ve never had a problem getting my rhythm back,” Rose said Sunday in Detroit, talking about returning from his last injury, a sprained right ankle. “I should get it back pretty quick.”

Over the last five games, Rose has played 39 minutes against the Knicks, sat in a rematch against the Knicks after spraining his right ankle, showed rust or turnover issues in two straight games against the Heat and Pistons and then sat against the Wizards.

“The guys who have been out and missed time, we have to get them playing,” coach Tom Thibodeau said.

That doesn’t apply as much to Luol Deng, who missed his first game Monday since March 12. Deng, who leads the league in minutes per game, also traveled to Charlotte and is a game-time decision against the Bobcats with the bruised ribs he suffered Sunday against the Pistons.

With Deng also playing through a torn ligament in his left wrist, he’s likely to sit at least one more game.

At least Richard Hamilton is playing. The veteran shooting guard tied his season-high with 22 points in 34 minutes Monday, his most playing time since Jan. 29 in Miami.

More encouragingly, he logged 19:30 in the second half and talked afterward of ditching the shoulder brace he has sported since returning from a 14-game absence April 2.

“I’m feeling good, fresh,” Hamilton said. “If there’s any benefit to how much time I’ve missed it might be that I’m fresher for the playoffs.”

The Bulls are 6-5 in their last 11 games and had their lead for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference trimmed to 21/2 games Monday. A critical showdown with the Heat looms Thursday.

“We’re 60 games into it,” said Thibodeau, who delivered a memorable postgame briefing after Monday’s loss. “You have to eliminate all the ways you beat yourself first. Then you establish who you are as a team. The low turnover (goal) is a big part of winning. Defense, rebounding and low turnover, those are the three musts every night. That has to resonate with us.”

Kyle Korver, who is a glass half-full guy, thinks it will.

“We don’t need to coast into the end of the season,” Korver said. “We have to win our games, so let’s go win them. We can win every single one. We have to get healthy and some timing because guys are beat up. But we can get back to playing good basketball.”