Rip’s all right as Bulls top Grizzlies 92-88 in preseason opener
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org October 9, 2012 10:39PM
Bulls center Nazr Mohammed puts up a shot in te second half of the Chicago Bulls 92-88 win over the Memphis Grizzlies Tuesday October 9, 2012 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: November 11, 2012 6:33AM
His first basket of the game was a driving layup.
A minute later came the 15-foot pull-up jumper that has earned Richard Hamilton a steady paycheck as he enters his 14th NBA season.
This was the shooting guard the Bulls were supposed to have had last season after Hamilton signed a free-agent contract to leave the Detroit Pistons and play alongside Derrick Rose.
‘‘Well, like I’ve said, I couldn’t get on the floor,’’ Hamilton said Tuesday, recalling his injury-plagued 2011-12 season before the Bulls defeated the visiting Memphis Grizzlies 92-88 in their preseason opener. ‘‘And then when I did get on the floor, Derrick went out. It was crazy.’’
Now it’s just normal for Hamilton, who showed Tuesday what the Bulls were missing from him last season.
‘‘The big thing is we really couldn’t practice last year [because of the lockout], and he missed training camp,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. ‘‘So it was a shortened training camp, and he missed it. Then he got hurt, so he didn’t have a lot of reps of anything. He was learning on the fly, and he was never healthy. He says he’s feeling as well as he has in a long time, he’s practicing well, so we’re hopeful that he’ll be able to be durable this season.’’
Thibodeau often points out the 38 games Hamilton missed. A sore groin, then a sore thigh, then a messed-up right shoulder.
And when he did play, he averaged a pedestrian 11.6 points, his lowest average since his rookie season in Washington.
‘‘It’s fun for me now because now I get an opportunity to really learn Thibs, learn the system,’’ Hamilton said. ‘‘Offensively, I’ve always been a player that’s known where to get shots, knowing that things are open and things like that. Last year was, like, on the fly.’’
Throw in some good old-fashioned self-awareness. Hamilton was able to admit he wasn’t getting any younger this offseason, so he hired a physical therapist to help him prepare for his second season as a Bull.
‘‘It was one of those things where you play so long, and people tell you that you need to do certain things because you’re older,’’ Hamilton said. ‘‘I tell myself, ‘Well, I think I’m still 27 sometimes.’ They said everyone still thinks that when they go past 30. It was one of those things where I’m still trying to get an advantage, if it’s anything, no matter what it is, and a therapist was one.’’
Hamilton put up six points in limited playing time in the first half against the Grizzlies, then came out the second half and scored a quick seven to finish with 13 points in 20 minutes. Luol Deng led the Bulls with 18 points.
The best news for Hamilton: He walked off the floor. He didn’t limp.