By Nick Shepkowski –
UNITED CENTER (CBS) When you’re the biggest off-season addition for a team that led the NBA in wins a season ago, expectations are high. To say Richard Hamilton hasn’t lived up to them yet in 2011-12 would be a major understatement as the 12-year NBA veteran has now played in just 19 of the team’s 58 contests to date.
Tuesday night at the United Center was different for Hamilton, however, as he had his best night in a Bulls uniform with 20 points in 2:35 of game action.
“I still missed a lot of shots I usually make 90 percent of the time but it’s coming together,” Hamilton said after Tuesday night’s win.
18 of Hamilton’s team-high 20 points came in the third quarter when he scored 18 of the Bulls’ 25 points in the frame.
“It felt good,” Hamilton said of the third quarter. “I thought C.J. (Watson) did an excellent job getting me open baskets.”
Despite his third quarter explosion, Hamilton didn’t come off the bench in the fourth quarter.
“Right now I’m just going with the flow of the game,” Tom Thibodeau said after the game. “Whatever we need.”
Thibodeau went on to add that the importance of defense — and especially rebounding — was part of the reason Hamilton was kept on the bench for the game’s final twelve minutes.
“We’re pacing my minutes so we don’t rush into it,” Hamilton said about not playing in the fourth quarter.
Hamilton played just over twenty minutes for the game but added he would like to get to the point where he can comfortably play between 25 and 30 a night.
Having missed the majority of the season with various injuries, most recently a shoulder injury that kept him out of 14 straight contests, there may be some positives of missing time for the Bulls shooting guard.
“My legs feel awesome, that’s the thing about it,” Hamilton said. “My legs feel great but getting my shoulder to the same speed as my legs is the thing now.”
It might not be by the most desired of ways but there is no doubt that having a veteran shooting guard with championship experience and fresh legs is a positive for the Bulls.
Now if they can just make sure said shooting guard is able to stay on the floor.
In addition to covering the Bulls for 670TheScore.com, Nick Shepkowski is the associate producer on The McNeil and Spiegel Show, weekdays 9am-1pm on 670 The Score. You can follow Nick on Twitter at @Shep670.