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updated: 10/30/2012 4:43 PM

Hinrich plans on making Bulls opener

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  • Coach Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls open their season Wednesday night against Sacramento at the United Center.

    Coach Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls open their season Wednesday night against Sacramento at the United Center.
    Associated Press


The Bulls are hoping to be at full strength when they open the regular season Wednesday against Sacramento at the United Center.

Of course, that's a relative term for now, since Derrick Rose will miss the first half of the season while recovering from ACL surgery.

But replacement point guard Kirk Hinrich, after nursing a groin strain for the past five days, participated in Monday's practice at the Berto Center and should be ready to face the Kings.

"I'm doing much better," he said. "I was able to participate in practice today and was pleased about it. As of right now, as long as I don't have any setbacks tomorrow or anything, I plan on playing."

Hinrich has been sidelined since the second half of the preseason game against Oklahoma City on Oct. 23. Back with the Bulls after a two-year absence, Hinrich looked good in the preseason, particularly on defense.

Newcomer Nate Robinson played well in Hinrich's place, but now he can focus on leading the second unit. Coach Tom Thibodeau also has the option of using Hinrich at shooting guard, especially if Marco Belinelli's shooting slump continues.

"It's always encouraging when you have your whole team practice," Thibodeau said. "If (Hinrich) practices tomorrow and he's fine, then he plays. We're just taking it day by day. He's a lot better today than he was yesterday."

The Bulls endured a long series of nagging injuries last season. An recurring theme was players taking enough time off to make sure a minor injury doesn't become a lingering issue.

That challenge was met with mixed results. Hinrich said this is the first time he has had a groin strain and feels confident in his recovery.

"My thinking on it was if there was a chance of me playing, I was going to have to get out here a couple days and see how it feels," he said. "I was very happy with it today.

"Moving forward, I want to push tomorrow kind of the same way -- get through a full practice without any issues and just see how I'm feeling."

Even though the Bulls are waiting for Rose to return, the usual excitement for the start of a new season applies.

"It's definitely harder to fall asleep at night right now," center Joakim Noah said. "It's a good time of year. We're capable of winning games. We just want to make the city proud, keep fighting every day, and then it's going to be exciting when Derrick comes back."

Thibodeau, on the other hand, took a big-picture approach when asked about the season opener.

"It's not an end-all," he said. "It's the beginning of the season. We don't want to change things. We just want to keep focusing in on improving, get better each day, try to do the right things, develop the right habits and improve. If we do that, we'll be OK."

The Bulls played very well defensively during the preseason, and the starters seemed to blend together well. The biggest concerns were poor outside shooting and the reliability of a revamped reserve group.

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