The Bulls have been pleased with what they’ve seen from Derrick Rose so far, so his playing time will be increased beyond the 20-minute mark that’s been set for his first two games.

And Rose will be available to play in the fourth quarter of tonight’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers, if need be. With Jimmy Butler returning from a one-game absence (left calf), this will be the 21st game the starting five will play together this season.

“We’re going to add another segment to it, so we’ll see how it unfolds,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He handled the first two (games), which was good. So we’re going to go from there.”

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The numbers aren’t eye-popping, as Rose has shot eight for 24 in back-to-back games against Orlando and Miami, and turned the ball over seven times in 39 minutes of play.

But Thibodeau has been pleased about the way Rose has gone about matters, the improvement from game to game in the way he’s gotten himself more comfortable. During Thursday’s game in Miami, he got to the basket more and started shooting his mid-range jumper as opposed to settling for 3-point attempts, as six of his nine shots Wednesday came from behind the long line.

“We’ve talked about that before,” Thibodeau said. “We try to back it up more toward when he was playing well right before the All-Star break. And I thought that was the whole key to him getting into a good rhythm again, was he went back to some of the mid-range shots.


“To me, that was his strength coming into the league. So I think what that does is it gives him good rhythm.”

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A statement from Thibodeau indicates the controversy surrounding minute limits from Rose and Joakim Noah will become a thing of the past when the playoffs begin a week from now.

“We’re at the point now, the minutes thing, I don’t want to get wrapped up into,” Thibodeau said. “I want it to be about performance. If he’s playing well and he’s showing that the minutes are good, then he’ll play more.

“But I don’t want him out there fatigued or anything like that. But you got to play well. That’s the important thing right now. I think he’ll be fine. I think Jo will be fine. I think we’re good with the minutes stuff.”

Noah had been quietly frustrated with the 32-minute limit placed on him, which often left him on the sidelines during the final half of fourth quarters, but he will be freed from those shackles.

Thibodeau, the front office and the training staff apparently met about Noah’s status as well recently.

“We spoke about it. And coach will be able to do what he wants,” Noah said.