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Article updated: 12/24/2012 7:44 PM

Hamilton practices, could return soon

By Mike McGraw

Richard Hamilton returned to practice Monday and could be on the verge of returning to game action.

The veteran shooting guard has been out since tearing the plantar fascia in his left foot on Dec. 1.

"Actually, he's feeling pretty good," said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau at the Berto Center. "We'll see how he feels tomorrow. I want him to get through a few practices first, where there's no discomfort the next day. He did a lot more today than he has in the past."

After playing back-to-back games against Houston and Indiana the next two days, the Bulls will get a couple days off. So it sounds like there's a chance Hamilton could return Saturday when the Bulls host Washington. That would be the four-week anniversary of when the injury occurred.

In other injury news, Luol Deng (sore left shoulder) did not practice Monday, but Thibodeau expects him to play against Houston. Taj Gibson (sprained ankle) participated in the full practice.

"Lu did very little. Taj did everything," Thibodeau said. "It was just more of a rest day for Lu."

Bulls get some holiday play:

Playing on Christmas Day used to be standard procedure for the Bulls during the Michael Jordan era. They returned to the Christmas schedule last year, opening the shortened season on the road against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Now they're at home on the holiday for the first time since 1997, hosting Houston at the United Center. The NBA has been working to turn Christmas into a basketball holiday, with five televised games on the slate Tuesday.

"It is an honor and a privilege to be playing on this day," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "I think our players are excited about playing. It is a family day. We want to recognize that. We also don't want to be distracted and (be) prepared to play. I think if you're building the right habits all the way along, you're able to handle things like this."

Rebounds in decline:

Saturday's loss in Atlanta was bad all the way around, but it marked the fourth time in six games the Bulls were outrebounded by their opponents.

The Bulls are ninth in the league in total rebounds and sixth in rebound margin, but they're used to being at the top of those categories.

"Concerned," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We can't rely on one or two guys to do all the rebounding. You have to do it with the entire team. Particularly against those teams that shoot a lot of threes and there are a lot of long rebounds you have to chase down. Our guards have to get in there and come up with 6, 7, 8 rebounds apiece. If they do that, usually you're in good shape."

Individually, Joakim Noah currently ranks seventh in rebounds with 10.6 per game and Carlos Boozer is 14th at 9.4.

Bull horns:

At the end of Monday's practice, coach Tom Thibodeau huddled on the court with Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah, but wouldn't divulge the purpose. ... Ex-Bulls center Omer Asik was given a flop warning by the NBA for his actions against San Antonio on Dec. 10. Asik said he was simply trying to get out of the way of Tim Duncan's arm and avoid having his nose broken for the second time this season.

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