Tom Thibodeau again stuck with Kyle Korver at shooting guard in the fourth quarter and extra session over starter Rip Hamilton -- though Hamilton did play an instrumental role at the beginning of the fourth quarter in Thursdays home win over Miami -- deferring to the reserve sharpshooters recent hot streak and it proved to be the right move, as Korver knocked down a big three-pointer late in the contest to help the Bulls survive.
Remarked the coach: He did it for us all last year, too. Hes a big fourth-quarter player. When he comes off those screens, hes great at creating separation. The bigs are doing a great job of setting the screens and Derricks doing a great job of delivering. If the second defenders there, Kyles a very unselfish player. Hell find the open man, so we can play off of that.
Korver himself said: Its a role that Ive been put to do for a long time and those are shots that I like to take. Ive teammates that look for me and Ive got a good little rhythm going on right now. just trying to be aggressive, take good shots -- I dont want to be out there, just jacking up whatever -- but Im hoping that teammates have confidence in me. Jo made a great play in the overtime, just hit me in the corner and just trying to be ready.
However, Thibodeau downplayed the fact that Hamilton -- who was animated in supporting his teammates against his former squad on the sidelines -- wasnt in the game during crunch time.
I thought Rip was terrific. Were going to see how it plays out. Each game, I think Rip does better and better. I thought he was in good rhythm. He had 13 points in 20 minutes tonight. Thats great productivity, so hes coming along about how I would expect, he said. For a guy whos missed as much as hes missed, actually hes playing better than I thought he would, so hes doing fine.
Recently, Thibodeau broke down his thought process with Hamilton.
Were just going to be patient with it. Slowly build it up, he explained. As long as hes playing well that tells you something. Usually, when theres a drop-off, the conditioning component is big. When youve missed the amount of time that hes missed and Derrick has missed, youre concerned about that. You have to get that up to speed.
Were actually very deep at the wing position. As a shooter its enough to be in rhythm, also. You have to strike that balance. We feel good about our wings. Kyle has played well all year. Ronnie has played well. Rip, when hes been healthy, has been terrific. Luol has been great all year and Jimmy Butler has done a good job for us, as well, Thibodeau continued. He has shown you what hes capable of. He had the 18-point quarter the other night. He had 20 points in 20 minutes. I think he can do that but its the efficiency you want him to play with and you want the team to function well on the floor. It gives us something else we can go to. When hes on the floor, he opens things up for people. Hes great moving without the ball, he gets transition baskets and with his catch-and-shoot game, he allows us to play off of that. Both he and Kyle get double-teamed every time theyre coming off a screen and they have the responsibility to make the right play. Rip has been around a long time. Hes seen all the different defenses. He knows where the holes are. Hes very unselfish.