DEERFIELD -- Derrick Rose may still be struggling to stay healthy, but the Bulls have received a big boost from the return of Rip Hamilton.
In Tuesday's 98-86 win over the Knicks in Chicago, Hamilton poured in 20 points, his most since scoring 22 on Jan. 23 against the Nets. He also added five assists, four rebounds and a three-pointer in his fourth game back from a shoulder injury that forced him to miss almost a month of play.
The 13-year NBA veteran has missed 38 games this season due to injury and his return provides the Bulls with another scoring threat.
"I think it's critical for our team," head coach Tom Thibodeau said. "It gives us another guy that has a catch-and-shoot game like Kyle Korver has. But Rip also is very good in transition. He runs the floor extremely well.
"He's probably underrated in terms of all the things that he can do. He can post up some. He puts it on the floor very effectively. He competes defensively. He adds a lot and, obviously, he's been around a long time so he's been in a lot of tight situations, big games. He's unfazed by things. He's got great poise. So I think it's a big asset. Hopefully he can be healthy."
Now that Hamilton has returned, Thibodeau and the Bulls would have a complete rotation for the first time in a long while if Rose is able to return Thursday night. If he's not, the reigning NBA Coach of the Year isn't about to make any excuses.
"Obviously, you always prefer to be full strength," he said. "But we're fortunate. Our bench guys have been great all season. So whoever is out there, we expect them to get the job done."