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Luol Deng, Rip Hamilton held out of game

Updated: November 15, 2012 6:52AM

MINNEAPOLIS — A sore groin kept Luol Deng out of the preseason game Saturday against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Why Rip Hamilton was a late scratch before the second of back-to-back games wasn’t clear.

“Nothing, really,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Just with the back-to-back, I wanted to rest both guys.’’

Deng underwent pregame treatment for the injury but downplayed the idea that it could linger into the regular season.

Considering he played with a bad wrist most of last season, Deng has earned the benefit of the doubt.

“I think it’s more precautionary’’ Thibodeau said. “He’s got a little bit of tightness, so we want to make sure that he’s completely healthy.’’

Jimmy Butler started in Deng’s place, and Marco Belinelli started for Hamilton.

Long-distance blues

Thibodeau isn’t afraid to criticize his team, and he made note of the Bulls’ 3-for-33 three-point shooting entering Saturday.

“Understanding and knowing when to shoot and when to pass is an important part of the game,’’ Thibodeau said. “When you look at how to play smart, it’s knowing what your job is, then doing your job, knowing when to shoot, knowing when to pass, knowing our schemes and staying discipline.’’

Italian import

Belinelli had five quick points in the first quarter, but Thibodeau still is demanding consistency.

“Some good, some bad,’’ Thibodeau said of the Belinelli’s play. “I want him to be more of a complete player, and I think he can do that.’’

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