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Dunleavy to start for Bulls; Hinrich still the closer

Updated: December 23, 2013 3:47PM

DENVER — For the time being, Mike Dunleavy will start games.

If Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has his way, however, Kirk Hinrich will finish them.

With Jimmy Butler on the shelf for a few weeks with turf toe, Thibodeau announced before the game against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night that Dunleavy was a better option to start over Hinrich.

“I thought it through, I like both guys,’’ Thibodeau said. “I don’t want to disrupt the second unit, so it allows us to get back to our second unit.’’

But as he’s been doing most of the season, he wants to close games with Hinrich and Derrick Rose on the floor. It’s a concept that is four years in the making.

“As I said when I got hired, and I had watched their games from the previous year, and I knew that from when I was in Boston and [Hinrich and Rose] played together, how they functioned on the floor together,’’ Thibodeau said. “So I felt good about that.

“There’s a big comfort level, and both guys are versatile enough where they are comfortable with or without the ball.’’

Nate being Nate

Former Bulls guard Nate Robinson, who left in the offseason to join the Nuggets in free agency, has been nursing a sore right wrist. His solution? Shoot left-handed.

Robinson is ambidextrous, so coach Brian Shaw has green-lighted him to play through the injury.

“He’s a basketball-slash-football player, so he’ll tough it out,’’ Shaw said. “If it’s really bothering him, maybe I’ll have to protect him from himself.’’

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