Bulls’ Rose says pain in back is gone

Chicago’s Derrick Rose said his back is pain-free and he expects to play in the All-Star Game this weekend.

The league’s reigning MVP was again in the Bulls’ lineup against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday. He returned Monday against Atlanta and scored 23 points in a win after missing the previous five games with lower back pain.

"I’m not worried about it anymore,” Rose said. "I don’t feel any pain anymore.”

Asked about the All-Star game, Rose said, "I’m good. Like I said, I don’t feel any pain in my back. My hamstring is not tight. I feel loose. I feel good. Fatigue is another thing from not playing, but it’s coming along.”

Rose said he’ll continue to see a chiropractor and do more stretching, but he doesn’t expect the back to be a problem anymore. He acknowledged Wednesday he was tired of talking about it and apologized to reporters for not making himself available for comment on Monday. Chicago did not practice on Tuesday.

Rose also denied reports that he told Bulls management he would trade Carlos Boozer to the Los Angeles Lakers for Pau Gasol, saying, "That’s something that I wouldn’t say to anyone — that I need someone to come to this team or trying to get rid of someone on this team. It was all false.”

The Bulls are still down a point guard, even though their superstar appears to be fine.

Backup C.J. Watson missed his second straight game because of a mild concussion after taking a blow to the head from New Jersey’s Kris Humphries in Saturday’s loss. Watson needs to meet league guidelines before he can return.

Coach Tom Thibodeau said veteran guard Richard Hamilton "is doing a lot more” and is "taking on contact now,” but his return date remains up in the air. Hamilton has been limited to 11 games this season because of thigh and groin problems.

The Bucks’ Stephen Jackson did not travel with the team because of a sore right hamstring, and Drew Gooden missed his fourth straight game because of a sprained right wrist.