Back on bench, Belinelli sparks Bulls winBy The Sports Xchange | The SportsXchange – Sun, Dec 30, 2012 12:00 AM EST
CHICAGO -- Richard Hamilton made a successful return from a foot injury and the teammate he sent back to the bench, Marco Belinelli, scored 17 points in his return to a reserve role as the Chicago Bulls beat Washington 87-77 on Saturday at the United Center. Belinelli had started the previous 12 games in place of Hamilton, who tore the plantar fascia in his left foot on Dec. 1. Coming off the bench early this season, Belinelli struggled. But on Saturday, he was aggressive throughout his 33 minutes on the floor, hitting 7 of 16 shots. "I think it's his confidence," Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said. "When you're new to a team, I think he was trying to fit in, trying to learn the system. He's already proven to be a good player in this league, so you knew it was a matter of time. Once he had a better understanding of his teammates and his teammates had a better understanding of him, he's very good." Hamilton looked reasonably sharp, hitting 4 of 9 shots for 9 points in 15 minutes. Carlos Boozer contributed 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Bulls, while Luol Deng added 11 points. "I felt pretty good," Hamilton said. "It was sore, but the adrenaline made it easy for me to be able to not think about the pain. I felt good. I was able to get to my spots on the floor. That was the biggest thing I was worried about, changing direction, especially when somebody was guarding me and I had to take a hit." Washington captured its fourth win of the season on Friday against Orlando but played Saturday without top scorer Jordan Crawford, who was sidelined by a sore ankle. Still, the Wizards made the Bulls work hard for this win. The visitors were within 79-76 with 5:19 left after Emeka Okafor tipped in a missed free throw by teammate Shelvin Mack. Belinelli answered with a 3-pointer and Washington scored its final point of the game on Nene's free throw at the 4:47 mark. The Bulls weren't exactly lighting up the scoreboard but got jumpers from Boozer and Jimmy Butler down the stretch to put the game away. Rookie Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 14 points, while Kevin Seraphin scored 12 and Okafor piled up 11 points and 18 rebounds. Washington shot 36.5 percent from the field. "We just didn't have our offense," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "We struggled from the perimeter all night. We fought hard, but not knocking down shots from the perimeter meant if we weren't scoring in the paint, we were having trouble." Wittman gave Garrett Temple the start at point guard on Saturday, in his third game with the team. He finished with 8 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists in 41 minutes of action. "We had the talent out there to win tonight," Temple said. "I was definitely pressured and made a couple of late turnovers. I take that on me as a point guard." While Washington played at home on Friday night, the Bulls had three days off, thanks in part to a game in Indiana being cancelled Wednesday due to a snowstorm. Before that, Chicago lost consecutive games by more than 10 points for the first time in Thibodeau's three seasons on the job. The Wizards got off to a fast start Saturday, jumping to a 22-14 lead late in the first quarter. The Bulls had a better second quarter and led 45-39 at halftime. It looked like Chicago would pull away when it opened a 13-point lead early in the third quarter, but Washington used an 11-0 run to close within 60-58 with 3:35 left in the third. NOTES: Coming off its fourth win of the season against Orlando on Friday, Washington caught a bad break when leading scorer Jordan Crawford had to be scratched Saturday with a sore left ankle. The injury happened sometime in the Magic game. Crawford scored 27 points in that one and was averaging 21.8 points in his last six games. ... Chicago shooting guard Marco Belinelli went back to the bench Saturday after starting 12 straight games in place of injured starter Richard Hamilton. Belinelli averaged just 5 points before Hamilton was hurt, then produced 15.3 points per game as a starter. ... Both of these teams have been playing all season without point guards chosen No. 1 in the draft. Washington's John Wall (stress injury to left knee) has started to do limited practice with the team, while Chicago's Derrick Rose (left knee surgery) is likely a few weeks away from joining practice.
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