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- Bulls starters Rip Hamilton and Luol Deng will both play against the Wizards. Hamilton has missed 12 games with a torn plantar fascia in his left foot, while Deng sprained his ankle in the Bulls last game against Houston Tuesday. The Bulls were 7-5 in Hamilton’s absence, with Marco Belinelli starting in his place, but Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said the team has missed some things Hamilton provides. “His catch-and-shoot ability, ability to make plays, run the floor, get out in transition, but overall it’s his experience,’’ Thibodeau said. The team will maintain a close eye on Hamilton’s minutes. “He’s at stage of his career where you have to be careful and we will do that,” Thibodeau said.
- Bulls guard Marco Belinelli averaged 15 points per game as a starter in Hamilton’s place, but will be put back on the bench with Hamilton’s return, although he is expected to play the bulk of minutes at shooting guard for a while. Thibodeau said he expects the same performance from Belinelli as a bench player. “Marco started slowly but has been playing very well. He has an important role with this team. Play well with the minutes you get, and that’s how you get more minutes.”
- Jordan Crawford’s role on the Wizards has changed from game to game but his contributions have continued to grow. Although he has started 12 games this season, he returned to the bench two games ago, and against Orlando Friday he scored 27 points off the bench, making 11 of 16 shots, and added six rebounds and six assists. “When this team is healthy, that is his role,’’ coach Randy Wittman said. “He can be a spark off the bench have the ability to come right in and get into the game offensively. He is a punch off the bench we didn’t have before. “
- Having won against Orlando Friday, the Wizards are pursuing their first win streak of the season. In their three previous wins, the Wizards lost the following game on the road, although two of the losses were by single digits.
– Kent McDill