CLEVELAND (AP) — Derrick Rose's injured toe is better, just not good enough to risk playing on.
The league's reigning MVP sat out his third straight game Friday night with a sprained left big toe, an injury he first sustained on Jan. 10 at Minnesota. Before the Bulls played the Cleveland Cavaliers without Rose, coach Tom Thibodeau said his star point guard has improved.
"Each day he's moving in the right direction," Thibodeau said, "and when he's ready to go, he'll go."
Rose did not participate in the morning shootaround and he did not warm up with his teammates. Rose was not available for comment. He entered the locker room briefly and walked past reporters into the trainer's room.
Cavaliers coach Byron Scott joked that he was hoping Rose would be out.
"My prayers were answered," Scott said.
The Bulls are taking a cautious approach with Rose, who is averaging 20.8 points and 8.7 assists. Rose hasn't played since last weekend against Toronto. Even without their top player, the Bulls (13-3) blew out Phoenix 118-97 on Tuesday. C.J. Watson started for Rose and scored 23 points.
Watson will also take Rose's spot against the Cavs.
Thibodeau believes the Bulls have enough depth and talent to hold their own until Rose comes back.
"Here's the thing about our team," he said. "We have more than enough to win with. If he's hurt and he's injured, he doesn't play. If he can tolerate the pain and feels good enough then he'll play. That's the way it is. This is the NBA."