Richard Hamilton was as surprised as anyone when Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau looked down the bench and sent him into the game early in the second quarter.
“Wow, I’m going in the game,” Hamilton said later when asked to describe his thoughts. “It’s a crazy game. Sometimes you’ve just got to be ready.”
After missing a long stretch late in the season with a back injury, Hamilton made just two brief appearances in the first round against Brooklyn and hadn’t played at all in the Miami series.
But when Marco Belinelli picked up his third foul at the 10:19 mark of the second quarter, Hamilton checked in to a loud ovation from the home fans. He knocked down a 3-point basket just over two minutes later and ended up scoring 11 points in 22 minutes of action.
Not surprisingly, the guy with 126 career playoff games under his belt, mostly with Detroit, didn’t enjoy watching from the bench.
“Especially when the whole purpose of you coming here was for the playoffs,” Hamilton said. “Not being able to get in and battle with your teammates is hard. It’s rough. It’s not a cool thing at all. Nothing I expected. You’ve just got to keep your head up high, help the guys out and be ready.”
The Bulls suggested that Hamilton isn’t completely healthy and when Belinelli started playing well in the Brooklyn series, Hamilton ended up on the shelf.
“I feel good,” Hamilton said. “A lot of stuff in life you don’t understand. This is what I was brought here for. So not being able to play, help my teammates, is hard as well. But I try to stay positive. I don’t try to rock the boat. Just try to be positive. Tonight, I got lucky.
“You can’t be bitter. This league has always been great to me. I have fun enjoying doing something I love to do. Sometimes it’s going to go your way, sometimes you can’t control it.”
Noah makes all-defensive team:
Joakim Noah became the first Bulls player to make the NBA’s all-defensive first team since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in 1998. The team was announced Monday and coach Tom Thibodesu seconded the honor.
“Obviously, I’m very pleased with that,” Thibodeau said before Monday’s game. “I think down the road, Joakim has a very good chance to be defensive player of the year. His ability to defend all five positions, every aspect of the game — individual defense, team defense, rebounding, multiple effort. (He’s a) very unique player.”
Since 1998, Luol Deng (2012), Noah (’11), Kirk Hinrich (’07) and Ben Wallace (’07) have made second team all-defense.
Memphis guard Tony Allen, a Chicago native, received the most votes, followed closely by LeBron James. Noah and New York’s Tyson Chandler tied for the center spot, while Oklahoma City forward Serge Ibaka and Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul filled out the first team.
The second team included two other Memphis players, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley; along with San Antonio’s Tim Duncan, Indiana’s Paul George and Boston’s Avery Bradley.
Coaches vote for the all-defensive team and media votes for defensive player of the year, which explains why Gasol won defensive player of the year but landed on the all-defensive second team.
Deng received 1 first-place vote and finished high among others receiving votes, behind Denver’s Andre Iguodala, Milwaukee’s Larry Sanders and Oklahoma City’s Thabo Sefolosha.
Bulls stay short-handed:
Nothing changed regarding the Bulls’ injury situation. Luol Deng was active for Monday’s game, but never made an appearance on the bench. He was in the locker room before the contest. Kirk Hinrich (bruised calf) and Derrick Rose (knee surgery) also sat out.
Fans were given signs reading “Next Man Up” at Monday’s game. That’s one of the many catchphrases of coach Tom Thibodeau that describes his no-excuses policy when players are injured. ... After going 8-for-8 from 3-point range in the series, Miami’s Norris Cole missed his first attempt of Game 4 in the second quarter.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.