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Recovered Hamilton back in mix after 19 games out with bad back

CHICAGO IL - APRIL 09: Richard Hamilt#32 Chicago Bulls shoots over Kyle Lowery #3 ToronRaptors United Center April 9 2013

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 09: Richard Hamilton #32 of the Chicago Bulls shoots over Kyle Lowery #3 of the Toronto Raptors at the United Center on April 9, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Raptors defeated the Bulls 101-98. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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Updated: April 10, 2013 12:05AM



A familiar face was back on the court for the Bulls on Tuesday night, even if it was somewhat hidden behind a plastic mask.

Initially ruled out after the morning shootaround, veteran guard Richard Hamilton (back) made enough of a recovery that the medical staff cleared him and coach Tom Thibodeau played him.

Hamilton had missed 19 games, last playing Feb. 26. He came into the game Tuesday with 39 seconds left in the first quarter, missed his first shot badly, then scored on a floater in the lane with 10:40 left in the second quarter. He finished with four points in 14:16.

‘‘He’s come along,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘He’s feeling better, so we’ll see where he is. It’s one thing to be able to do that in practice, and it’s another to be able to do it in a game, and then, of course, we have to see how he responds [Wednesday] after the game. But we’re glad that he’s back.’’

Pain in the foot

Center Joakim Noah said he received a cortisone shot in his right foot to try to relieve some of the pain caused by plantar fasciitis, but he sat out again, and there’s growing concern he’ll miss the five remaining regular-season games.

‘‘Jo is the tricky one,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘I’m hoping he’s going to respond well — he’s doing everything he can to get back out there — but you have to wait and see on that. As I told him, I don’t want him out there if he’s injured. That’s important.

‘‘[The setback] was enough where we were concerned. The time he was out, he put a lot into his rehab, so he’s somewhat discouraged. But you can’t be discouraged. You’ve got to just keep doing what you’re doing, and hopefully he’ll be ready for the end of the season.’’

Changing of guard

Thibodeau didn’t like starting Nate Robinson and Kirk Hinrich in Detroit because it messed up his bench rotation, so against the Toronto Raptors, Robinson came off the bench while Marco Belinelli started at the two.



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