Hinrich has flashback performance against Lakers

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Hinrich has flashback performance against Lakers

Bulls veteran point guard Kirk Hinrichs performance in Monday nights 95-83 home win over the Lakers was like a blast from the past, back in the old Captain Kirk days.

Hinrich isnt viewed as much of a scorer these days, as his primary role on offense is being a facilitator, as well as making opposing floor generals work hard on the other end of the floor. But every once in a while, the Kansas product shows that hes still capable and while it helped that he was guarded by the defensively-deficient Steve Nash, Hinrich rose to the occasion, scoring a season-high 22 points, the high total in the contest, on 9-for-11 shooting, as well as dishing out eight assists and grabbing seven rebounds.

Just hit a couple early and we played a lot of pick-and-roll in the second half, and I would come off screens and get some good looks, Its been a while. Its more like about time. Just had it going. We felt like that was our advantage. We could put them into pick-and-rolls in the second half and get the ball hopping, and obviously, we did a good job, he said in typically modest fashion, before explaining why he doesnt look to score more on a regular basis.

I think that injuries and its kind of an afterthought for me all year. Im trying to run the team and do my job, and I got a few more looks than I normally do tonight. The pick-and-rolls, I was able to come off clean and let it go.

Every games different and I think you have to have the feel of the game. A lot of games, it seems like early in the games, we have guys who have it going, the Iowa native continued.

I feel like its my obligation as a point guard to make sure the ball gets there and especially with Luol out tonight, we needed a little bit extra. It just happened to kind of be me.

While Hinrich downplayed his night, his teammates were ecstatic for the veteran.

Im very happy for Kirk because I know how bad he wanted it. We worked so much together this summer and to see Cap have a game like that in such a big game, it was huge, Joakim Noah said.

When Kirk plays like that, were very, very hard to beat because not only is he a great floor general, but when hes putting the ball in the basket like that and making playsbecause you know defensively, hes one of the best in the leagueits all positive.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau has championed Hinrichs contributions to the team all season and Monday, while it was more obvious, was no exception to the rule, according to the coach.

Hinrich has really played well all year, in terms of running the team and his defense is always outstanding. I felt it was just a matter of time until he starts knocking shots down and hes played very well for us all season long, he explained.

I think its important for him to shoot the open shots and I think sometimes, he gets so caught up in running the team that he sometimes passes up the open shot and when you dont take the open shot, sometimes what it leads to is taking a guarded shot, so I liked his aggressiveness. I thought his reads were very, very good and Nate, as well. I thought the two of them played a very efficient game.

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott wasn’t exactly hunting for his first shot, but the first time he touched the ball in an NBA game in nearly a month wasn’t the optimal situation for him to let one fly.

It wasn’t in transition where he runs to an opening behind the 3-point line, nor was it a drive-and-kick situation where the help defense collapsed and left him open. It was a regular, simple, pass to the perimeter and McDermott’s defender was in reasonable proximity with 3:23 left in the first quarter.

He launched and the crowd soon roared its approval as his sweet jumper was sorely missed by the Bulls bench brigade—and moments later when he ran the floor for a fearless layup that caused Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to call a timeout, McDermott showed he missed the United Center crowd too, calling for more noise on his way to the bench.

“Anytime you have a guy like Doug, he comes back and makes his first 3, that’s hard to do,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He stepped up with confidence on that first shot. I’m sure he had a lot of nerves getting back out there.”

Missing 12 games and suffering two concussions, McDermott looked right at home in 25 minutes of run Thursday as the Bulls were able to rely on their reserves in some form in their 95-91 win over the previously perfect road warriors known as the Spurs.

“We defended and kept them off the foul line,” McDermott said. “Coach (Jim) Boylen was with them, so we feel we know them and I think all this time they were missing my defense.”

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The last statement was certainly tongue-in-cheek, but the Bulls’ bench production was certainly missing in action while he was out with the concussion protocol. So much so that his return prompted the Bulls’ coaching staff to call out the reserves in the morning shootaround, demanding more.

“It’s definitely Dwyane (Wade) and Jimmy (Butler) and (Rajon) Rondo (but) the coaching staff kinda called out our bench like, we gotta have you tonight, bench,” McDermott said. “We took that to heart, we were really locked in.”

Seemingly his presence aided the Bulls’ spirits and production, as the Bulls’ bench had the least effective scoring bench in the NBA since Nov. 13, the day after McDermott hit the unforgiving floor against the Wizards for his second concussion this season.

Their net rating ranks ahead of only the Wizards, Mavericks and Nets, who are a combined 17-45 this season. Their effective field goal percentage, which takes into account 3-pointers, is worst in the league in that span (42.3 percent).

When McDermott was healthy for that smaller sample size, the Bulls’ bench ranked fifth in offensive efficiency, seventh in net rating, and fifth in efficient field goal percentage. Whether McDermott – and his absence – was directly related to those numbers, it’s clear the Bulls are better when they have their best reserve – and only true floor spacers on the second unit – on the court.

“We’re all professionals and we want to help the guys who are busting their butts in the first unit to get us the leads,” McDermott said. “Tonight we did a great job of sustaining it. We take it personal when teams come back on us.”

[MORE: Pau Gasol relishes consistency with Spurs he couldn't find with Bulls]

Nikola Mirotic was four of eight from the field, and Cristiano Felicio seems to be back in Fred Hoiberg’s good graces as he’s carved out a rotation spot for himself with nine points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes.

It seems as if Hoiberg will stick with this rotation of players, at least for a little while until Michael Carter-Williams returns from his injuries. If McDermott is the mark of the Bulls’ bench going from bottom feeder to adequate, it should show this month.

“When he’s out there on the floor and we get him coming off screens, it forces the defense to shift as another person they need to be aware of,” Hoiberg said. “It opens up driving lanes for our guys. It was great to have Doug back with us.”

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

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