As far as coach Tom Thibodeau is concerned there’s no secret why Derrick Rose is suddenly a candidate for the 3-point shootout at All-Star weekend.

And if that possibility sounds ridiculous well so are Rose’s numbers which Wednesday featured him scoring 13 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter of a 104-95 exhibition victory over the Thunder at Intrust Bank Arena.

On the night backcourt mate Jimmy Butler returned from injury Rose struggled with his shot early. But he sank 4 of 8 from beyond the arc including three in the final period. And he’s now 12-for-23 from 3-point range during the Bulls’ 7-0 preseason.

“You can’t imagine how much shooting this guy has done” Thibodeau said. “Last year he wasn’t playing in the games but he was shooting. He shot every day before practice then in practice then after practice. Then he’d go to the game and shoot some more.

“Then on off days he gets to the gym and shoots for hours. That old saying that the magic is in the work there’s a lot of truth to it. It’s not only what he’s doing individually before and after practice it’s what he’s doing in practice and the example he’s setting and leadership he’s showing for our team.”

The Bulls have their closer back. Rose has attempted double-digit free throws in five straight games and also added six assists in his preseason-high 35 minutes.

“It’s coming along” Rose said. “I still have a long way to go. In one-on-one situations I have so much stuff I want to go to. I’m seeing some improvement.

“I work too hard. Even when I’m missing shots they’re going to fall. I was missing short because of my legs. In the fourth quarter Thibs put me back in the game and I’m thankful to be playing with guys who allow me to perform the way I want to perform.”

Butler had missed the previous three games with a bruised left knee and finished with 12 points in 32:31. But Thibodeau wasn’t satisfied.

“A lot of rust” Thibodeau said when asked what he saw in Butler. “We have to try to shake that off. He hasn’t practiced. You can’t expect to play well if you’re not practicing. Defensively we weren’t very good. Free throws he’s an excellent free throw shooter so that will come around.”