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Bulls remain short-handed vs. streaking Nuggets

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CHICAGO (AP) - The injury-battered Chicago Bulls remained short-handed as they faced the streaking Denver Nuggets on Monday night.

Taj Gibson missed his 10th consecutive game due to a troublesome left knee, Richard Hamilton was out for his ninth game with a persistent back injury and Kirk Hinrich for his seventh straight due to an injured right foot.

Also, Derrick Rose has not played yet this season after recovering from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

"Everything is the same," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "Taj, out. Kirk, Derrick out. Hamilton, out."

There had been hope that Gibson may return to face Denver, which came into the game with an 11-game winning streak.

"He's getting a lot closer," Thibodeau said. "Just think another couple days will be good."

With so many key players hurt, Chicago has struggled while losing six of its last 10 games and beginning the day at 36-29. The situation will remain the same until Gibson and Hinrich return, with Hamilton's return date a bit more uncertain.

"We're short-handed . but you still have to have the mental toughness to get through whatever adversity you're facing," Thibodeau said. "I thought we were playing well, but the challenge when you're playing well is not to let your guard down. When you start feeling too good about yourself, that's usually when you're going to get knocked out.

"So, we've got to keep scrapping, we've got to grind, you don't want to skip any steps and keep fighting, and that's what we have to do. When we do that, we have a good chance."

With the Bulls now in the final quarter of the regular season and trying to improve from their current sixth spot in the Eastern Conference, Thibodeau wants results, not excuses from his remaining healthy players.

"You're at the point of the season now where you're heading down the stretch," Thibodeau said. "You have to short things up, you want to be playing your best going down the stretch, you want to be building the right habits. But we don't want to change what our objective was right from the beginning, which is to improve each and every day. But in order to do that, you have to concentrate and put everything you have into each and every day.

"That's the way it is, bring the right intensity, get the job done, simple. Do it collectively, injuries are part of it. Next man up, go out there and do it."

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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