Rip Hamilton made his return to the Bulls lineup in Saturday nights 87-77 win over the Wizards at the United Center and while he scored a modest nine points in just under 15 minutes of playing time, his health was something that optimism could be gleaned from after missing nearly a month of action with a torn left plantar fascia.
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I felt pretty good. It was sore, but I kind of told the trainers the adrenaline, being on the floor made it easy for me to not think about the pain. But I felt good. I was able to get to my spots on the floor and that was the biggest thing that I was worried about the change in direction especially when somebodys guarding me and I have to take a hit, Hamilton said afterwards. Tonight was just adrenaline. Once I came over to the bench, I tried to keep heat on it because its still sore. It still hurts, but its one of those things where it really doesnt limit me to moving and cutting. But it hurts. Right now, its just the getting through the pain part.
Bulls team physician Dr. Brian Cole said I cant hurt it anymore than what it is. Mentally, thats what I think of. Theres no way I can hurt it any further. It tore, so thats a benefit for me when Im out there playing, to really stop on a cut and really take the contact.
Hamilton revealed that hes on a minutes limit, prescribed by Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, who the veteran shooting guard joked, might be the doctor and the coach, although Thibodeau didnt inform him when that restriction would be lifted.
Thibodeau said that he wants to keep me between 15 to 20 minutes per game, Hamilton said.
Thibodeau himself was positive about Hamiltons outing Saturday night, Taking everything into consideration, the amount of time hes been out."
In the second half, he had a pretty good rhythm going, the coach went on to say. He created separation, moving extremely well without the ball, so that was a big plus. We need his minutes, we need his shots, we need his points.
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Hamilton wasnt surprised that he knocked down shots That doesnt go anywhere, he quipped but complimented his teammates for locating him on the floor and putting him in the right positions to be successful.
I thought the guys did an excellent job of finding me in spots where I can make shots. I missed a few that I felt I should make, but thats just not being out there. But I felt good. I was surprised at good I felt, especially the second half. I felt a little better, got that first wind under my belt, he explained.
The biggest part for me was stopping and going. With my style of play, I like to get underneath the basket and bang a little bit, then go one way, then change directions and go the opposite way, and that was the scary part for me, coming into the game because I was like, All right, I know I can shoot because weve been shooting in practice. The biggest thing for me is being able to stop on a dime coming off a screen and getting my shot off, and I was able to do it.