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updated: 12/29/2012 11:17 PM

Bulls' Thibodeau says play well, get minutes

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Here's the challenge Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau faces:

A shooting guard, Marco Belinelli, who didn't play well until he joined the starting lineup, went back to the bench Saturday when Richard Hamilton returned from a foot injury.

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So what can Thibodeau do to make sure Belinelli doesn't go back in a slump? Nothing, really.

"I think that's a cop-out, 'Oh, I need more minutes,'" Thibodeau said before Saturday's game against Washington. "Play well with the minutes you get. That's how you get more minutes.

"When you back it up further, you practice well. Usually when you're practicing well, you'll play well. Then when you do have an opportunity, go out there and perform."

Belinelli was aggressive Saturday, a big change from early in the season. He led the Bulls with 10 shots attempts in the first half but made just 3.

He averaged 5 points per game as a sub early this season, then produced 15.3 in 12 games as a starter.

"That's the challenge," Thibodeau added. "You need everyone to play well. Marco started slowly, and he's played very well. He's an important part of the team. He's got a significant role.

"Rip has established himself as a very good player in this league for a long time, but we need everybody. I like the way our bench guys have stepped up. Our starters have to set the tone and then our bench has to come in and get the job done."

Hamilton's time limited:

In both halves, Richard Hamilton played roughly the first seven minutes, then took a seat on the bench. This was his first game action since Dec. 1, when he suffered a torn plantar fascia in his left foot.

"We want to manage his minutes," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "It's not going to change from where we started. He's at the stage of his career where I think you have to be careful. So we'll do that."

Asked what the Bulls missed while Hamilton was out, Thibodeau replied, "His catch-and-shoot ability, his ability to make plays, run the floor, get out in transition."

Wall still sitting:

Both the Bulls and the Wizards have played all season without point guards chosen No. 1 in the draft. While Derrick Rose appears to be a few weeks away from returning to practice, Washington's John Wall (stress injury, left knee) joined his teammates on the court earlier this week.

"Obviously, no contact still yet, but he did full speed, up and down, with the dummy stuff we ran, and that's the first time he's done that with the team," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said in The Washington Post. "That's a step in that direction."

Bull horns:

Backup center Nazr Mohammed played 13 minutes Saturday, just the fourth time this season he has logged more than 10 minutes. His season-high of 16 minutes came in an early-season blowout at Cleveland. … Washington started former LSU guard Garrett Temple at the point Saturday, his fifth career NBA start.

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