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Kyle Korver, bench fail in fourth quarter

Bulls guard Ronnie Brewer splits Houstdefense as he goes hoop second quarter as Chicago Bulls host HoustRockets Monday April 2

Bulls guard Ronnie Brewer splits the Houston defense as he goes to the hoop in the second quarter as the Chicago Bulls host the Houston Rockets Monday April 2, 2012 at the United Center in Chicago. | TOM CRUZE~Sun-Times

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Updated: May 25, 2012 4:05PM

When key reserves were starting for an injured Rip Hamilton, who returned in the 99-93 loss Monday against the Houston Rockets, the Bulls’ bench players would emphasize how much Hamilton’s presence was missed.

Meanwhile, the Bulls’ bench missed some reserves just as much.

With a slew of injuries plaguing the team, key reserves Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver were forced into starting roles.

With Hamilton’s return, they can move back to their original roles and provide the team with its biggest asset: depth.

“It was good to play with Ronnie again a little more,” Korver said.

The game against Houston proved how pivotal the bench will be in the next 11 games leading up to the playoffs.

The reserves played an excellent second quarter, helping the Bulls take an 11-point lead into halftime, but they had a lifeless fourth quarter.

Korver passed up a few three-point opportunities after missing contested shots in the fourth quarter.

His hesitation resulted in three turnovers, two down the stretch with the game still within striking distance.

“We played a really great second quarter on both ends, then just didn’t finish it out well,” Korver said. “Then the third quarter came, and we didn’t have the same life that we had, and we finished it up with a really bad fourth quarter.

“Just bad decisions. My fault on a couple of them. Just trying to make the right play. I think you’re trying to make the assist for a score and not necessarily just move the ball.

“I took a couple that were contested, and guys were flying on me, so I gave a couple of pump fakes. But one guy flied by and there was another guy there, and I just messed up. I should have made better plays.”

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