NEW YORK--After missing five games with a back ailment, Kirk Hinrich also returned to the Bulls’ lineup Wednesday, which put fellow D.J. Augustin in a reserve role after the team’s most recent acquisition started the last three games.
But the point-guard duo ended up playing several minutes together and while each fared well individually—Hinrich had six points on 3-for-5 shooting, four assists and just one turnover in 20 minutes, while Augustin had 13 points and five assists in 32 minutes—their shared ability to handle the ball, play off the ball, set up teammates and score proved to be a positive for the Bulls, particularly in a 23-4 third-quarter run that blew the game open.
“I like the combination when D.J. and Kirk were in together,” Thibodeau said. “Just having a secondary ballhandler gives you the opportunity to run pick-and-roll on both sides of the floor, but I think the big thing is having shooting on the floor and when you have shooting, it opens thing sup inside. Carlos had 14 and Taj had 20, and the reason why is because there’s space. You’ve got to have shooting and so, I was pleased with that.
“Kirk, I thought his minutes were real good. So we had a lot of guys step up and play well,” he went on to explain. “It’s interchangeable. D.J., he’s very smart. He’s picked things up very quickly. I think the quick decision-making has become contagious. He makes quick decisions and he reads things well. He does a good job of getting guys in rhythm.”
[RELATED: Bulls' Gibson shines in Brooklyn homecoming]
The two floor generals also enjoyed the pairing.
“That’s fun. Kirk is a great player. We both can see the floor, so it’s fun playing with him because we can both push it and either one of us can play the one, and on defense, we can switch pretty much any pick-and-roll,” Augustin said. “It’s not bad. Like I said, I can run and spot up in the corners, cut and get ready to shoot the ball, get ready for my shot. So it’s a good look.”
Hinrich added: “I liked it. I feel like it’s a good lineup for us. We can go to that at times. We’ve got two guys who can play pick-and-rolls. D.J.’s been great for us so far, so it’s been a huge boost for us.”
The veteran also said that he had no ill effects from his hiatus: “I feel good. I felt great out there. I was just glad to kind of get my feet underneath me and I thought we had a great effort.”