Former Warriors impress in return to Bay Area

Former Warriors impress in return to Bay Area
March 16, 2013, 2:30 am
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My grandmother was here—she’s what, 83 years old—so I had to come out here and play as hard as I can.
—Nate Robinson

OAKLAND—Bulls shooting guard Marco Belinelli suffered through a rough first two-and-a-half games of the team’s West Coast road trip before salvaging the sojourn to California with a 10-point, six-assist evening in the Bulls’ 113-95 triumph over the Warriors, the team he began his NBA career with.

There was a reason for his struggles, however, as Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau revealed afterwards that the shooting guard is playing through pain, making his second-half showing in the game more impressive.

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“He’s battling through some injuries, so he’s doing a good job out there. We’re running a lot of offense through him at times,” Thibodeau explained. “I thought he stayed the course, had a couple tough plays go against him, but for the most part—he started off, missed a couple shots early—but he has a lot of mental toughness, so when the ball started moving, he knocked a couple down and that changed the way the game was going.”

After his coach disclosed he was hurt, Belinelli discussed his ailment in detail.

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“It happened against the Lakers. I think it was the last layup that I scored against the Lakers. I can feel a little bit of pain here, in my abdominal, but it’s not anything serious or anything. I didn’t practice two days ago, but I get treatment every day and I tried to be ready for the game,” he said. “I’m not 100 percent, but when I’m on the court, I try to be aggressive and help the team win.

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Making Friday’s bounce-back win a bit sweeter for him is the fact that he’s a former Golden State player, though he was more focused on the fact that the Bulls redeemed themselves after Wednesday’s embarrassing loss in Sacramento, in which he shot 0-for-9.

“It feels good. That was a bad game for us. That was embarrassing for us. We lost by 42 points against Sacramento. We didn’t play good on offense and defense, but right now, we don’t want to think about that. That was two days ago. That was the worst game of maybe my life and maybe this year for the Chicago Bulls,” Belinelli said. “But I think tonight, we played good, especially in the first three quarters. We played tough, everybody was on the floor to get the ball and that was important for us.”

Another former Warrior, Nate Robinson, also excelled Friday, scoring 20 points, dishing out eight assists and playing smothering defense against opposing point guard Stephen Curry, which drew praise from Thibodeau.

[WATCH: Thibodeau says the Bulls came out ready to play Friday night]

“For some point guards I know in the league, they hate that. Avery Bradley’s one of the best at it, so today, I was like, ‘I have to do that.’ I tried to make it as hard as possible for Steph to bring the ball up and to come off shooting because he’s 70 percent of their offense,” Robinson explained about his defense. “Every night, you can’t make every shot. I watched the game of what he did to the Knicks [54 points] and I was just hoping he didn’t have one of those games tonight, and he didn’t, so thank God for that.”

For Robinson, a Seattle native, it was a bit of a homecoming and he had family at Oracle Arena to cheer him on.

“My grandmother was here—she’s what, 83 years old—so I had to come out here and play as hard as I can,” he said. “My kids are here, my dad’s side of the family’s here. It was a big win for us because we needed it more, but playing in front of my [former] home crowd was awesome.”