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Thomas expected to return today
By Mike McGraw | Daily Herald Staff

Joakim Noah, left, and Chris Richard watch their Bulls teammates play against Miami on Saturday night. Richard, filling in for the suspended Tyrus Thomas, had 7 rebounds in the Bulls' 95-91 win.

 

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Published: 2/7/201 11:00 PM

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The Bulls will return to practice today with an assumption that Tyrus Thomas will be back ready to play after serving a one-game team suspension.

The Bulls did find a quick replacement, though. Power forward Chris Richard, in his second game since signing a 10-day contract, played 20 minutes and grabbed 7 rebounds in the Bulls' 95-91 win over Miami.

Richard, a former Florida teammate of Joakim Noah, spent the preseason with the Bulls, so he had a partial recollection of the team's plays.

"I know what my role is no matter what team I'm on," Richard said after the game. "I've just got to bring energy, defend, rebound, help, whatever I can do. I figured if I get lost on the offensive end, I can just go set a random screen. That's a great thing about being a big."

Thomas lashed out following Friday's loss in Atlanta, most likely disappointed about his playing time. It was the fifth straight game Thomas played 20 minutes or less.

Team insiders suggested the Bulls have tried several tactics to help Thomas understand the role they want him to play, but it hasn't helped. When he first came back from a broken arm on Dec. 26, Thomas averaged 16 points, 8.3 points and 2 blocks in his first three games.

Since Jan. 1, Thomas has averaged 7.3 points and 5.8 rebounds. His relationship with coach Vinny Del Negro appeared to take a wrong turn when Thomas was sent to the bench for taking a quick jump shot in the Jan. 9 game against Minnesota.

Taj sticks to plan: Bulls forward Taj Gibson suggested there's a small chance he could skip the rookie-sophomore game during all-star weekend. But for now, he's planning to play despite suffering from plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

"I'm still going to go," Gibson said. "Pax (vice president of basketball operations John Paxson) talked about it might be limited minutes. I'm looking forward to the weekend to see how the experience will be."

Gibson suggested his other alternative is to undergo the same aggressive therapy Joakim Noah has had this week, in which blood was injected into the foot. But that would mean some time off.

"He had the tough treatment on it; he's going to be out awhile," Gibson said. "I heard it was a real intense treatment. They want to give it to me, but it's a matter of days just to rest on it."

Rose day to day: After Saturday's game, Derrick Rose joked about living through the grind of an NBA schedule.

"All my friends laugh at me, because it could be a Saturday and it feels like a Monday," he said. "You really don't know what day it is if you don't keep in touch with it."