After returning to the lineup after the All-Star break, all seemed well for Rip Hamilton. The shooting guard was slowly getting back into the groove, the Bulls were winning and then, Monday evening, the 13-year veteran suffered a right-shoulder injury after running into a Pacers player in the first quarter of the eventual blowout victory.
Hamilton wasnt available for comment after the game, but according to a source familiar with the situation, he left the arena with his right arm in a sling. The same source told CSNChicago.com that Hamilton apparently injured the top of his shoulder and at least early onhell be examined Tuesdaytheres little optimism about a quick return.
He collided and its his shoulder, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said afterwards. He tried to shake it off and at first I thought it might be a stinger, but that wasnt the case.
Although the Bulls are used to playing without Hamilton for the majority of this season, the hope was that he could finally be healthy to ingrain himself into the team permanently and build upon what appears to be promising chemistry with the rest of the roster. His offseason addition filled a need, sharpshooting and his extensive playoff experience is another plus.
I hope that Rips not too hurt. We know we need him to get to where we want to get to, but Ronnie Brewer was an animal out there tonight, Joakim Noah said before humorously adding, Hopefully hell get some massages. Well call the African spirits and pray that hes all right, and hopefully hell be back on the court soon.
Ronnie Brewer, the player charged with replacing Hamilton in the starting lineup, had a solid outing Monday, finishing with 12 points and seven rebounds. While Brewer is a starting-caliber player, the luxury of having him come off the bench and add to the teams depth is clear, though the swingman admits that he relishes the increased playing time.
If you enjoy playing basketball, you enjoy being on the court, having success, having your team have success. Last game I didnt play a lot, but I tried to provide as much energy and impact the game as much as I possibly could against Philly. But tonight, a guy goes down and your role changes. Youve got to step up and do your part. I was just glad I came in and was able to play decent, and help our team out, said Brewer.
Were not too worried about it. Weve got guys who can step up and fill the void a little bit. We know what he brings to the table, we know his history, we know hes one of the best guys to move without the basketball, what he does shooting-wise. The most important thing is we have him down the stretch, healthy. We felt pretty positive about him coming back and slowly, but surely working his way, getting minutes. His shot was coming back, his conditioning was coming back. Its just unfortunate he got hurt tonight, but hopefully its not as serious as it looked and we can get him back on the court because hes definitely missed.
Added Thibodeau: Ronnies been terrific all year. Whether you start him, bring him off the bench, always ready, going to make scramble plays, hustle plays. Hes a great pro.
Some guys have a hard time coming off the bench because when youre coming in off the bench, your motor has to be running. Its a much more difficult job at times because youve got to get going quickly and he has the ability to do that. It doesnt take a long time, it doesnt take five minutes to get into the flow of the game. He can start instantaneously and if you start him, hes fine. If you bring him off the bench, hes fine. He just plays.