Bulls notes: Hamilton's minutes remain limited

931343.png

Bulls notes: Hamilton's minutes remain limited

BOSTON Rip Hamilton scored 13 of his 15 points in the third quarter of the Bulls Wednesday-night overtime win in Toronto. However, despite having the hot hand, the veteran shooting guard, who also finished with five assists on the evening, didnt return to the game, even as the Raptors made a run to send the contest into an extra session and backup Marco Belinelli struggled, missing clutch free throws and shots from the field late.

I thought Rip was terrific, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau explained. Rip made a lot of good plays for us. He knocked some shots down, but his playmaking was terrific.

I did, he continued, when asked if he considered reinsertng Hamilton, before explaining the rationale behind ruling against it. Because Im watching his minutes.

Hamilton, who played 18 minutes in the contest, acknowledged that fact afterwards, adding: But I know it coming into the game.

Noah: Rose will add new dimension to Bulls

Asked about the Bulls excellent ball movement as of late and how it could be affected by the eventual return of Derrick Rose unlike any player on the Bulls current roster, with the exception of backup point guard Nate Robinson, the former league MVP is known for his ability to create off the dribble Joakim Noah had an insightful response.

I think that Derrick deserves to hold the ball a little bit more, but I think hes going to add a whole different dimension to what we already have, the center, whos picked up some of the ballhandling duties during the point guards absence. Hes somebody who demands a lot of attention, so when he comes, its going to free up a lot of things for us.

Celtics Garnett, Rondo named All-Star starters

Friday night, the Bulls will take on the Celtics, who feature two players who were announced as 2013 NBA All-Star Game starters Thursday evening, point guard Rajon Rondo and future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett.

The latter is debatable, due to not only stiff competition among big men in the Eastern Conference though the leagues new frontcourt designation muddles things a bit but also the seventh-place Celtics record.

Still, while the likes of New Yorks Tyson Chandler and the Bulls Joakim Noah could stake claim to being the top center in the East, Garnett, who finished his high-school career at Farragut Career Academy on the West Side of Chicago, still has a major impact on the game defensively and while he isnt Bostons top offensive option, his mere presence makes him an important facilitator for the Celtics.

In the case of Rondo, he clearly benefits from the absence of Rose on the ballot, as the Bulls point guard, when healthy, can be penciled in as an All-Star starter before the season even starts.

Still, with counterparts like Brooklyns Deron Williams having an uneven campaign and emerging second-year star Kyrie Irving of Cleveland on a woeful Cavaliers team not to mention floor generals such as Milwaukees Brandon Jennings and Philadelphias Jrue Holiday playing in near-anonymity Rondo is head and shoulders above other players at his position in the East this season.

Knicks' Shumpert makes season debut

Oak Park, Ill., native Iman Shumpert, a second-year guard for New York, started for the Knicks' in the team's Thursday-afternoon win over the Pistons in London.

The athletic, defensive-minded Shumpert played 15 minutes and scored eight points in the game, his first since tearing his ACL last April 28, the same day Rose suffered his injury.

Shumpert reportedly had surgery to repair his torn knee ligament 10 days before Rose, who was advised to wait until the swelling subsided.

Robin Lopez on when he knew he'd be suspended: 'When I threw a punch'

Robin Lopez on when he knew he'd be suspended: 'When I threw a punch'

Most NBA players have to let their adrenaline come down before the reality of what's coming next begins to hit them, but Robin Lopez had his moment of clarity at the oddest time during his altercation with Toronto's Serge Ibaka on Tuesday night.

When asked when he knew he would be serving at least a one-game suspension for his missed punch in the fourth quarter of their loss to the Raptors, Lopez said, "When I threw a punch."

The process from the NBA to Lopez was pretty straightforward, and Lopez called the one-game suspension "fair."

Ditching the caveman look for a clean shaven appearance at Friday morning's shootaround, Lopez seemed at ease with what happened and wasn't going to contest the one-game decision, especially since the NBA could've gone with two or three games as no precedent has been set for fighting this season.

"I mean, that's what the league gave. I'm going to stick with it," Lopez said, adding, "I didn't change my story."

The multiple camera angles would've made it impossible to believe a different recollection of the events had Lopez attempted to finagle himself out of the one-game suspension that stopped his 71-game starting streak with the Bulls this season.

[BULLS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

His matter-of-fact statement after an emotionally charged incident didn't hurt the Bulls. They beat the Pistons by 20 as Lopez was serving a banishment that ended his streak of 187 consecutive games played. But he was happy Joffrey Lauvergne got a chance to prove his worth.

Lauvergne had 17 points and seven rebounds Wednesday night, and he'll be behind Lopez against the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night as Cristiano Felicio is recovering from a hard fall late in the Raptors game.

"He's very versatile. He's a playmaker, he can score from a lot of different spots on the floor. He's a really smart basketball player," Lopez said of Lauvergne. "I always want to be out there with the guys. But they took care of business and did their thing. So I was pleased to see them pick up the win."

Picking up two in a row shouldn't be a monumental task against the 76ers, though they are 3-3 in their last six games and the Bulls haven't won two in a row in nearly a month as their grip on a playoff spot has loosened.

For the moment, the Bulls sit ninth in the East, a full game behind the surging Miami Heat, with a 34-38 record. Teams with nothing to lose can be playoff spoilers, and the Bulls have lost more than their share of games to lesser teams this season.

"Those teams do play loose," Lopez said. "They kind of just go out there to play basketball, and that can be a bit dangerous. But we've got something to play for, so we've got to be more motivated. The Sixers especially, they play really well, they have a lot of energy. So we've got to go out there, we've got to play motivated."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will the Bulls make the postseason?

usatsi_9965113.jpg
USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will the Bulls make the postseason?

Ben Finfer (ESPN 1000), Brian Hedger (nhl.com) and Jason Goch (SB Nation Radio) join Kap on the panel.  The Bulls beat the Pistons in a game with huge playoff implication.  So could they actually make the postseason?

The Blackhawks are closing in one division title but what’s their biggest weakness?

Plus Theo Epstein’s a really great leader, Kyle Hendricks is going to have to wait a while to pitch plus DeShone Kizer loves the band “Chicago” but will he play here?