Richard Hamilton giving Bulls new dimension
By Seth Gruen For Sun-Times Media January 24, 2012 12:02AM
Bulls guard Richard Hamilton became the first Bulls shooting guard under Tom Thibodeau to score 20 points in a game Saturday against the Bobcats. | Nam Y. Huh~AP
Reaching 15,000 career points in a 110-95 victory Monday against the New Jersey Nets was a nice achievement for Rip Hamilton, but the veteran guard has given the Bulls something even more notable in their last two games.
Hamilton scored 20 points Saturday against the Charlotte Bobcats, the first time since Tom Thibodeau became the Bulls’ coach that a shooting guard scored 20 points in a game.
Hamilton followed up that performance with a 22-point effort Monday, giving the Bulls reason to believe they have found the second backcourt scoring threat they lacked in their five-game loss to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals last season.
‘‘With me, it’s just not all about scoring,’’ Hamilton said. ‘‘[There’s] so many great players on this team, and . . . my job is to try to make everybody’s job easy. If it’s scoring, if it’s passing or whatever, that’s what I try to do.’’
Scoring might be what the Bulls need most from Hamilton right now. With forward Luol Deng out with a wrist injury, they will need Hamilton to shoulder even more of the offensive load.
Thibodeau typically plays Deng more minutes than any other player. If Monday was any indication of how Thibodeau will redistribute those minutes while Deng is out, Hamilton will get the bulk of them. He played more than 42 minutes against the Nets.
‘‘He gives you great leadership, playmaking ability and shot-making ability,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘More important, he makes the right play. If he is double-teamed, he knows where the holes are. He makes the game simple. He gets easy shots for people. He runs the floor, and he never stops moving. He makes the offense hard to be defended.’’
Last season, when Keith Bogans started every regular-season and playoff game for the Bulls, the offense often looked stagnant. But Hamilton, one of the best players in the league at moving without the ball, has made the offense more fluid. The Bulls had 33 assists Monday.
‘‘In order to be a great team and a great championship team, everybody’s got to be on the same page,’’ Hamilton said. ‘‘And since I got here, everybody has been on the same page.’’