Hamilton makes his return to Bulls' lineup

972147.png

Hamilton makes his return to Bulls' lineup

Rip Hamilton made his return to the Bulls lineup in Saturday nights 87-77 win over the Wizards at the United Center and while he scored a modest nine points in just under 15 minutes of playing time, his health was something that optimism could be gleaned from after missing nearly a month of action with a torn left plantar fascia.

MORE: No contact yet, but Rose returns to practice; set to travel with team

I felt pretty good. It was sore, but I kind of told the trainers the adrenaline, being on the floor made it easy for me to not think about the pain. But I felt good. I was able to get to my spots on the floor and that was the biggest thing that I was worried about the change in direction especially when somebodys guarding me and I have to take a hit, Hamilton said afterwards. Tonight was just adrenaline. Once I came over to the bench, I tried to keep heat on it because its still sore. It still hurts, but its one of those things where it really doesnt limit me to moving and cutting. But it hurts. Right now, its just the getting through the pain part.

Bulls team physician Dr. Brian Cole said I cant hurt it anymore than what it is. Mentally, thats what I think of. Theres no way I can hurt it any further. It tore, so thats a benefit for me when Im out there playing, to really stop on a cut and really take the contact.

Hamilton revealed that hes on a minutes limit, prescribed by Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, who the veteran shooting guard joked, might be the doctor and the coach, although Thibodeau didnt inform him when that restriction would be lifted.

Thibodeau said that he wants to keep me between 15 to 20 minutes per game, Hamilton said.

Thibodeau himself was positive about Hamiltons outing Saturday night, Taking everything into consideration, the amount of time hes been out."

In the second half, he had a pretty good rhythm going, the coach went on to say. He created separation, moving extremely well without the ball, so that was a big plus. We need his minutes, we need his shots, we need his points.

RELATED: Multiple options have emerged at the wing for Thibodeau

Hamilton wasnt surprised that he knocked down shots That doesnt go anywhere, he quipped but complimented his teammates for locating him on the floor and putting him in the right positions to be successful.

I thought the guys did an excellent job of finding me in spots where I can make shots. I missed a few that I felt I should make, but thats just not being out there. But I felt good. I was surprised at good I felt, especially the second half. I felt a little better, got that first wind under my belt, he explained.

The biggest part for me was stopping and going. With my style of play, I like to get underneath the basket and bang a little bit, then go one way, then change directions and go the opposite way, and that was the scary part for me, coming into the game because I was like, All right, I know I can shoot because weve been shooting in practice. The biggest thing for me is being able to stop on a dime coming off a screen and getting my shot off, and I was able to do it.

Dwyane Wade tweets apology to fans after Bulls' lopsided loss in Atlanta

Dwyane Wade tweets apology to fans after Bulls' lopsided loss in Atlanta

For the opening three quarters in Atlanta, the Bulls were off. 

So off, in fact, that Dwyane Wade tweeted an apology to Chicago fans after the game. 

Thanks to a furious run by the Bulls' bench, the final score ended at a respectable 102-93. In reality, though, the Hawks dominated. 

Wade and company trailed by 29 points at half and 30 at the end of three. The 35-year-old shooting guard finished with a minus-18 and just four points while All-Star starter Jimmy Butler posted a team-low minus-22.

The Bulls will look to shake off their lopsided loss against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday. 

 

Fred Hoiberg after Bulls' embarrassing loss to Hawks: 'We're gonna look at everything'

Fred Hoiberg after Bulls' embarrassing loss to Hawks: 'We're gonna look at everything'

The bus was warm before the game started, as the Bulls looked like they wanted no parts of the Atlanta Hawks.

It was evident from the jump that playing with a full and healthy squad for one of the few times this season wasn't enough to arouse their competitive juices, as they put together arguably their worst 48-minute showing in a 102-93 loss at Philips Arena, dropping them to 21-23 in a game they trailed by as many as 34 points.

The practices have apparently been the sterling jewel of effort and competitiveness for the Bulls but it hasn't carried over through the season as the inconsistency continues to be maddening — one that seems to go beyond the "growing pains" mantra that's been fed by all involved so far this year.

"It could be things but I don't want to share it with the media," a sunglasses-clad Dwyane Wade said outside the locker room, in a rare mood of not being elaborative following a loss.

It appears even the professional's professional has gotten a bit more frustrated than usual — understandable considering the way the starters came out with a lack of energy, with more turnovers (eight) than field goals (six) in the first quarter.

"Continue to try to lead behind the scenes," Wade said. "Can't stop when it's bad, when it's good. You gotta be the same."

Fred Hoiberg, fed up with the starters, ran with the reserves for the fourth quarter and outscored the Hawks by nearly 25 points, bringing the lead to 95-90 with a minute left before a Dennis Schroeder jumper restored order with 52.6 seconds left.

Four Hawks scored in double figures led by Schroeder's 25 points and six assists and Paul Millsap scoring 14 while making all four of his shots in just 22 minutes of run.

[MORE BULLS: Dwyane Wade not buying into the Bosh to Bulls speculation]

Perhaps it's the Hawks being the same kryptonite to the Bulls that the Bulls are to the Toronto Raptors — except the Bulls simply frustrate the Raptors, not embarrass them.

"I have been, we have been, tired of this. I gotta come out better," said Jimmy Butler, who led the Bulls with 19 points in 29 minutes. "I gotta play better from the jump, 48 minutes. That's not the way we're supposed to play. 

"The way we practice is not the way we play in the game. Don't ask me why, I don't know. Starting with me and going down the line, we gotta be better as a whole. Otherwise we'll keep getting our asses beat and it's bad."

The Hawks shot over 60 percent for most of the night until the game devolved into what amounted to a pickup game late. After all, the Hawks seemed to be battling boredom by half, leading 65-36 and shooting 68 percent from the field and hitting 67 percent from three.

"We're gonna look at everything and we'll see how we go out and start tomorrow and a couple days after that, hopefully we figure some things out," Hoiberg said. "They shot over 70 percent in the first quarter and you dig yourselves a hole and it's impossible to get out."

Hoiberg said he would evaluate everything leading into Saturday's game at home against the Sacramento Kings, but Friday didn't seem to present any realistic lineup changes based on performance.

Bobby Portis scored 10 with seven rebounds off the bench, with Jerian Grant scoring 12 and Paul Zipser 10. Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic combined to shoot two for nine, so one wonders where Hoiberg can go.

"I don't know. Practice is good. Practice is great," Butler said. "Practice is not gonna win you games. We gotta take what we do in practice and take it over to the game."

The Bulls weren't about to make it any more suspenseful than it had to be, as they started off missing their first 11 3-pointers, often missing multiple open looks on the same possession.

It wasn't relegated to just shooting as the Bulls squandered easy opportunities in easy situations, like Denzel Valentine turning a three-on-one fast break into an airballed finger-roll attempt that he caught himself — a violation, of course.

"I don't know, I can't put a word on it. Because it's just talk," Butler said. "Doesn't matter what you say, if we don't go out there and do it, what the hell is talking gonna do? We've been up and down all year. If we don't guard and turn the ball over, games get out of hand very quickly."

This one was over a few minutes into it, as the Bulls looked like a lifeless squad with no direction and very little fight, short of a minor dustup between Dwight Howard and Robin Lopez in the third quarter.

At that point, though, all Howard had to do is point at the scoreboard, where a 30-point lead did all the necessary talking.

The Bulls trailed by 20 even before Tim Hardaway Jr. hit a 35-footer to end the first quarter, sending the Hawks off on a high and seemingly demoralizing the Bulls.

Even Butler's 19-point night, hitting six of his eight shots in 29 minutes, rang hollow. The Bulls could've trotted out a D-League team for the second half to gear up for Saturday's game against Sacramento and been better off than how they performed Friday night.

And for the Bulls, they can't simply just go back to the drawing board. There looks to be something fundamentally wrong with this bunch — either that, or the Atlanta night got the best of them Thursday.