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Bulls happy to have their point guard back ­— yep, Kirk Hinrich

Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich directs Bulls offense first quarter Chicago Bulls game against PortlTrail Blazers Thursday March 21 2013 United

Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich directs the Bulls offense in the first quarter of the Chicago Bulls game against the Portland Trail Blazers Thursday March 21, 2013 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: April 23, 2013 2:33PM



The Bulls got their starting point guard back Thursday. No, not that one.

Then again, coach Tom Thibodeau said those on the outside still don’t seem to get how important Kirk Hinrich has been this season.

“Maybe on the outside,’’ Thibodeau said when asked if Hinrich’s importance has been overlooked. “Certainly on the inside, teammates, coaches, I think we understand how important he is to our team. And we need everybody. The thing is, it’s how the team functions, and that’s where he’s so valuable. How the team is being run offensively, ball pressure, pick-and-roll defense, leadership, you need that.’’

The Bulls are 7-15 when Hinrich has been out. The latest bump to sideline Hinrich, 32, was a stress reaction in his right foot, which cost him the last seven games. The Bulls went 2-5.

The Bulls also welcomed back forward Taj Gibson against the Trail Blazers. Gibson missed the last 10 games with a sprained left medial collateral ligament.

“[Gibson] brings in a whole different dimension,’’ center Joakim Noah said. “He’s probably one of the best defensive bigs in the league.’’

Season on brink?

Thibodeau wouldn’t say if shooting guard Richard Hamilton (back spasms) is out for the season, but there seem to be some questions about a return.

“Just let [Hamilton] work through his rehab, see what happens,’’ Thibodeau said. “The back is something you’ve got to be careful with, just got to be patient.’’

Thibodeau was asked if there had been any improvement, and he said, “It’s not clearing up right now, so we have to wait.’’



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