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Bulls guard Nate Robinson ends preseason on a high with 21 points

D. J. AugustNate Robinson

D. J. Augustin, Nate Robinson

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Updated: November 28, 2012 6:15AM

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Life with Nate Robinson has been a lot of things for Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau over the last month.

Quiet isn’t one of them.

And now that the preseason is over after the Bulls’ 97-90 victory Friday over the Indiana Pacers at Notre Dame’s Joyce Center, don’t expect Robinson to tone down his on-court antics any time soon.

“I’m just me, man,’’ Robinson said. “How God made me, how my mom raised me. You either love it or hate it. Quite frankly, I’m going to be myself. If you don’t like it, I don’t know what to tell you.’’

His teammates wouldn’t have it any other way. His energy throughout the preseason has been contagious.

“[Robinson] plays with a lot of confidence,’’ forward Carlos Boozer said. “It’s a big deal. And I think as we get healthy and we get everybody back, he’s going to be monumental for our second group.’’

He was monumental for the starters against the Pacers in place of Kirk Hinrich, who is still slowed by a strained right groin.

Thibodeau downplayed the severity of the injury, but Hinrich said that if the regular season were to start this weekend, he’d be a no-go.

Luckily for Hinrich, he has until Wednesday, when the Bulls host the Sacramento Kings in the regular-season opener at the United Center.

“[Hinrich is] a little better, yeah,’’ Thibodeau said. “I just think it’s smart right now to hold him out.’’

They hardly missed him, as Robinson had a game-high 21 points and handed out eight assists.

But the crowd also was treated to Robinson’s patented flaps-down celebration after hitting big shots, and Thibodeau had his patience tested when Robinson picked up a technical near the end of the third quarter for too much chatter with an official.

Then again, Robinson always has worn the No. 2 to honor his favorite athlete, Deion Sanders, so what do you expect?

“I know my role is off the bench, and I’ve done it my whole career and been happy with it,’’ Robinson said. “[Friday night] we just had fun. It flowed; everything was there. There were some mistakes we made offensively, but overall it was just like kids in the playground hanging out and having fun.’’

Thibodeau was happy with the balance from the starters, all of whom scored in double digits.

Not a bad way to close out the preseason — going 5-2 and beating an Indiana team that many think is ready to knock the Bulls off the division perch this season.

“We’re going to be underdogs every night, we know that,’’ Boozer said. “That’s fine.’’

As for Robinson, he’ll wait on Hinrich’s condition the next three days to have a better idea if he’s starting or coming off the bench.

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