Richard Hamilton returned to the Bulls starting lineup on Tuesday after having missed 13 straight games while rehabbing from a bothersome thighgroin injury.
Hamilton played just under 17 minutes, scored five points on 2 of 5 shooting to go along with two rebounds and two assists.
First time out after an extended time off, there was some good and some not so good, said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau on his assessment of the veteran guards performance.
Rips a very intelligent player. I thought he was trying to fit in. His play-making was very good. He had a few turnovers, which is to be expected.
Hamilton had only managed to play in 11 games going into Tuesday nights win against the New Orleans Hornets and was eager to finally rejoin his teammates back on the floor.
Its hard, its tough because this is what you do and Ive been doing this for a long time, said Hamilton. You want to be out there. You miss competing against guys so it was missed, it was frustrating, it was hard, but Im happy to be back.
It was evident from the start, just how different of a team they are with him in the lineup as Chicago jumped ahead by 10 points in the first quarter before Thibodeau subbed him out with 3:36 remaining in the quarter.
He takes pressure off of people, creates easy offense because you have to pay a lot of attention to him, said Thibodeau. Even if hes not shooting the ball, defenses have to commit to him coming off of screens and it creates easy scoring opportunities for others. Defensively, I thought he was solid and its something to build on. Its a base-line for him and well keep adding as we go forward.
Hamilton noted that the plan was to play him eight minutes at the start of the first and third quarters, just to assess where he is conditioning-wise and build up his minutes going forward.
He also said that he felt no pain afterwards, but its unclear if his playing time will follow the same format Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs.
Its so hard to read because hes been out so long, said Thibodeau. We just wanted to sort of get a baseline of where he is. We want to go step-by-step with him.
Its step-by-step and well see how he feels. He hasnt had any setbacks, going from the shooting and non-contact, to adding contact and this is the next step. If hes fine, he goes.
Added Hamilton: Thats the biggest thing; dont try to play too many minutes because theres still a lot of games left. Were just trying to get a gauge of it, every game.
I just have to listen to my body. Im stubborn when it comes to that, he continued. I just want to play. I just want to get out there and play the whole game but thats not the case now. I just have to take my time and get out there and get in the swing of things.