Taj went through whole practice, said he's sore but will play. Deng didn't do much, but Thibodeau said he'll play vs Rockets. #Bulls— K.C Johnson (@KCJHoop) December 24, 2012
Both Deng and Gibson seemed at much less than 100 percent in the blowout loss to the Hawks, and I felt it probably would have been a good idea to just give them the night off. But we know that's not how the Bulls usually roll, so whatever. Hopefully the few days of rest will prove beneficial and they are truly ready to go against a Rockets team that is playing some damn good ball of late.
One interesting note about the Deng injury is that we still really have no idea what exactly it is. At least, I haven't seen it reported anywhere. Lu himself called it a "sprained something" and Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald told me via Twitter that he figured it indeed is a sprained shoulder:
@bulls_jay They probably do, but that doesn't mean Thibs will tell us. Shoulder sprain, most likely.— Mike McGraw (@McGrawDHBulls) December 24, 2012
Moving on, it appears that Richard Hamilton (he's still alive?) is pretty close to returning to the floor:
Rip has started running again. Thibs says he's still a few practices away from returning but he's getting better.— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) December 24, 2012
Rip Hamilton continues to increase activity. Saturday is possibility for him, which would be 4 weeks since he tore plantar fascia. #Bulls— K.C Johnson (@KCJHoop) December 24, 2012
Hamilton also provided a bit of an update himself:
Yesterday was the first day I was able to get some shots up. Yessir . On the road to recovery.— Rip Hamilton (@ripcityhamilton) December 24, 2012
Remember when Dr. Sam Smith said Hamilton could be back in a week or two? (LOL) Anyway, there will be a bit of a conundrum when Hamilton comes back, as Marco Belinelli has been much more effective in the starting lineup than as a reserve. In 11 games as a starter, Belinelli is averaging 15.4 points on 42.6 percent shooting and 40.9 percent from three-point land in 36.4 minutes per game. As a reserve, he has averaged just 5.0 points on 36.8 percent shooting and 40.7 percent from three in 14.7 minutes per game.
One has to wonder whether Hamilton would start whining if he was forced to come off the bench, but I would hope that Tom Thibodeau would not worry about that and just do what's best for the team on the court. I would strongly consider keeping Belinelli in the starting lineup, but right now, I expect Hamilton to regain his spot whenever he does return.