Thibodeau Plans to Help Veteran Hamilton Stay Fresh

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 31, 2012 | Go to article overview
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Thibodeau Plans to Help Veteran Hamilton Stay Fresh

Byline: Mike McGraw

Marco Belinelli led the Bulls with 17 points in Saturday's 87-77 victory over Washington, and he should continue to play heavy minutes, even with Richard Hamilton back from a foot injury.

Coach Tom Thibodeau shared some thoughts about the shooting-guard rotation after Sunday's practice at the Berto Center.

"Both guys are critical for us. The big thing is managing Rip's minutes so he can remain healthy," Thibodeau said. "That's what I'm really concerned about."

Hamilton had been out since Dec. 1 with a torn plantar fascia in his left foot. He scored 9 points in 15 minutes Saturday, while Belinelli logged 33 minutes off the bench.

Hamilton expects to be on a minutes limit of 15-20 per game until further notice. The Bulls host slumping Charlotte on today.

"I told coach, 'Don't worry about my endurance part,'?" he said. "I've been able to control that and do all the right things my whole career, always staying in shape.

"I still feel to this day I'm probably the best-conditioned athlete in the NBA a at my age (34)."

Hamilton felt fine Sunday, although he admitted the foot is still sore.

"There's no way that I can hurt it any further than what happened -- it tore," he said. "That's a benefit for me when I'm out there playing now to really stop on a cut and take the contact, because I know I can't hurt it any more than what it is."

Hamilton also promised to push Belinelli to keep playing the way he did against Washington. Belinelli was aggressive, taking a team-high 16 shots, a big difference from when he came off the bench early in the season.

"I think everything with him is just confidence," Hamilton said. "I'm going to put pressure on him to continue to play that way, because we're going to need him. We're going to need every guy on this team."

Deng clogs bench:

This was a minor factor in the Bulls' victory over Washington, but a major surprise considering the history: Luol Deng, the NBA leader in minutes played two years running, sat out the final seven minutes of the contest in favor of Jimmy Butler.

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