Hamilton returns to Bulls lineup after long layoff

Hamilton returns to Bulls lineup after long layoff
April 9, 2013, 7:00 pm
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Surprise, surprise: Bulls shooting guard Rip Hamilton, will return to the lineup, for Tuesday night’s game against the Raptors at the United Center.

“We’re going to play him tonight, so he’s going to have a chance to play some minutes. Not a lot. He’s come along. He’s feeling better, so we’ll see where he is. It’s one thing to be able to do that in practice and it’s another to be able to do it in the game and then of course, we have to see how he responds tomorrow, after the game. But we’re glad that he’s back,” Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said during his pregame media availability. “I wanted to see him more against contact and he’s actually moved along quite well. 

“You don’t want to put guys out there that are injured, so we wanted to make sure that he was ready to make the next step. So, at this time of the year, I think it’s important to be patient,” he continued. “He’s been down for a while, so we had to get his back to calm down. Now he’s been running for a while, he’s been shooting for a while and now, he’s been doing everything in practice, so the next step is to play and so, we’ll see where he is. He’s been out a long time, so there’s going to be some rust, but he’s an excellent playmaker, so he has the ability to make other people better.”

Hamilton, who has missed 19 consecutive games with a bulging disk in his back, last played Feb. 26 against Cleveland.

The Bulls will still be without four key players: All-Star Luol Deng, top reserve Taj Gibson, former league MVP Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.

Noah, who missed eight straight games, then returned for Sunday’s loss in Detroit, is out indefinitely after receiving a cortisone injection to treat the plantar fasciitis in his right foot.

“It’s not great,” the first-time All-Star told reporters after Monday’s morning shootaround at the Berto Center. “It’s frustrating. I felt pretty good to try it on Sunday, but it swelled up on me pretty bad. But I’m confident I’ll be out there when it gets hot.”

Thibodeau added: “I’m hopeful he’s going to respond well. He’s doing everything he can to get back out there. But you have to wait and see. As I told him, I don’t want him out there if he’s injured.

“He said he felt good during the game. After, it stiffened up a little bit. The next day was the problem. Hopefully, he’ll respond well to this latest treatment,” he continued. “He’s working hard on his rehab. He’s somewhat discouraged. But he can’t be discouraged. He just has to keep doing what he’s doing and hopefully he’ll be ready to go before the end of the season.”