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Bulls’ Kirk Hinrich misses third game in a row

Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer goes up for basket as OklahomCity Thunder center Kendrick Perkins defends during first quarter an

Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer goes up for a basket as Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins defends during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

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OKLAHOMA CITY — “Game-time decision’’ is a vague term for coach Tom Thibodeau. It could actually mean game-time decision or it could mean see you next week.

The hope for guard Kirk Hinrich (right elbow) is that he’ll be available Tuesday after he missed a third consecutive start Sunday. Hinrich has missed 10 of the Bulls’ last 11 games.

“It’s still not there,’’ Hinrich said. “Range of motion is the biggest thing. Just trying to make sure the stitches hold so we’re not doing this every week.’’

Hinrich missed seven consecutive games before the All-Star break when the elbow became infected and needed cleanup surgery.

He came back to play Tuesday against the Hornets in New Orleans, and played well, but the wound reopened, and new stitches had to be put in.

The hope is that another infection doesn’t settle in because missing the weekend road trip can quickly turn into missing another two weeks.

“With any open wound, especially with the elbow, it’s a possibility,’’ Hinrich said.

Hinrich is expected to be re-evaluated Monday, but he sounded iffy for the game Tuesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

That means Nate Robinson starts, and rookie Marquis Teague gets valuable minutes as he fights through first-year growing pains.

“I’m just trying to take every game, every practice and get better with them,’’ Teague said. “I’m just trying to continue to learn the NBA game.’’

New Thunder

Former Bulls swingman Ronnie Brewer, who was acquired by the Oklahoma City Thunder from the New York Knicks before Thursday’s trade deadline, passed his physical but was not ready to make his Thunder debut.

And while he was excited to make his debut with his new team this week, he again spoke well of his time with the Bulls.

“When I was in Chicago, that was a close-knit group,’’ Brewer said. “We thought we were so close to winning the championship. . . . It became kind of like a brotherhood.

“So I check on those guys a lot. They’re kind of like family, and they do the same with me.’’

Time to take off

Forward Taj Gibson has been inconsistent, but with the Bulls entering the final 26 games, he hopes it’s time for him to shine.

“I just go out there and let my play speak for itself,’’ Gibson said of the ups and downs of his season. “It’s hard because I’m not a starter. I go and play the minutes I’m given. When it’s time for me to step up, I step up. Whatever minutes I get, I just have to go out there and produce.’’

It didn’t happen Sunday. Gibson shot 2-for-11 from the field and left the game with a sprained left knee.



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