droseChicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose, who is recovering from an ACL injury, took a big rehab step on Monday by practicing in 5-on-5 drills for the first time this season.

Rose had been cleared by doctors for regular contact for weeks, and had been seen working out the last couple of weeks before games. But Monday gave the All-Star an opportunity to participate in his first scrimmage.

“He was able to get out there, and it’s good,” Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich said. “It was something that (we) as a team needed, as far as every individual coming off the (All-Star) break needed to scrimmage a little bit. And I’m sure it was good for (Rose), helpful to … give him a good gauge where he’s at.”

The Bulls intentions were to allow Rose to participate in 5-on-5 drills after the All-Star break, and would closely observe how his body would respond, according to Bulls vice president of basketball operations John Paxson.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau gave short answers to questions about Rose.

“He did what everyone else did. Just a normal practice.”

Rose made headlines last week, saying he would not come back until he’s “110 percent” and that he would be fine with missing the remainder of 2012-13 season.

Last week, the Chicago native said he knew he had not fully recovered because of his inability to dunk the ball. Monday was no different; he was still not dunking, according to teammate Joakim Noah.

Rose has been attacking his rehab aggressively. His teammates notice his drive to return, with him being the first one in the gym and the last one to leave.

“I would love to (come back this season),” Rose told ESPN in Boston on Feb. 13. “I would love to. That’s why I approached my rehab and my workout so hard. I’m trying to get back on the court as quickly as possible, but if I have anything lingering on, it’s no point.”

The Bulls will return to action Tuesday night against the New Orleans Hornets and will look to get a boost from Hinrich, who has missed the last seven games with an elbow infection. They will also look to guard Nate Robinson to continue to give them a spark.

But Thibodeau reiterated that Rose will only return when he has fully recovered.

“We have to be patient,” Thibodeau said. “When he’s ready, he’ll go.”

Chicago bullsDerrick roseEspnJoakim noahJohn paxsonNate robinsonNew orleans hornetsSportsTom thibodeau

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