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Bulls’ Marco Belinelli goes from streaking starter to struggling reserve

Nate RobinsNene

Nate Robinson, Nene

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Updated: February 28, 2013 7:13AM



WASHINGTON — Shooting guard Marco Belinelli has endured some tough times lately.

He’s trying to stay aggressive when he has the ball and trying to stay intense when he’s playing defense, but little seems to be going right the last few weeks.

Call it a bad case of post-starting syndrome.

When Richard Hamilton was lost for almost a month in December with a torn plantar fascia in his left foot, Belinelli didn’t just step in, he stepped up. He scored in double digits in nine consecutive games, including three games with 22 points or more.

But aside from playing hero with a last-second fadeaway at the horn last week in Boston, there have been a lot of 2-for-9s, 1-for-5s and 3-for-7s from the field recently.

Belinelli said his shot feels good, but it’s about getting comfortable again, which means getting back to more pick-and-rolls.

“When Rip was out, I started to play a lot of minutes, and there were a few plays made for me like a high pick-and-roll,’’ Belinelli said. “I think that’s something I can improve on, but I think it’s important for us to run high pick-and-rolls because it creates things for my teammates and allows me to be aggressive and attack the rim. It’s a good thing for me and the team.’’

The Bulls need to do something to get him in a groove again because unless Hamilton goes down with another injury, Belinelli will remain a reserve. General manager Gar Forman said earlier in the month that the Bulls weren’t looking to move Hamilton.

Then there’s always Derrick Rose’s looming return and how that will affect players’ minutes.

Belinelli can’t worry about that just yet. He already has enough to be concerned about.

“That will be the coach’s decision, but I know that everyone here can’t wait to see that, see Derrick Rose back,’’ he said. “I know I can’t wait to play with him.’’

Around the rim

Forward Luol Deng again gave his strained right hamstring a go in warmups, but he still wasn’t ready. The game Monday against the Charlotte Bobcats remains the target date. Deng has missed five consecutive games.

◆ Tuesday could be a big day for Rose. It’s the next full practice day for the Bulls, and he finally might participate in a “full-contact’’ practice.



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