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Hinrich unlikely for Sunday night Bulls vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

Updated: February 24, 2013 11:38AM



OKLAHOMA CITY – Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau called Kirk Hinrich’s chances of playing tonight against Oklahoma City a “we’ll see.’’ We’ve seen, though, and it’s very unlikely that Hinrich will play, with the right elbow still giving him problems.

“It’s still not there,’’ Hinrich said before the Sunday morning shootaround. “Range of motion is the biggest thing. [From the stitches] and the inflammation of just opening the wound back up. Just trying to make sure the stitches hold so we’re not doing this every week.’’

Hinrich missed seven games before the All-Star Break when the elbow became infected and he had to have surgery to clean it out. He came back and played in New Orleans at the start of the week, but the wound reopened and new stitches had to be put back in. The hope is that another infection doesn’t settle in, because missing the games on this current trip can quickly turn into missing another two weeks if that’s the case.

“With any open wound, especially with the elbow, it’s a possibility, so just trying to do everything we can to prevent that,’’ Hinrich said.

Expect Nate Robinson to start, and once again rookie Marquis Teague getting valuable minutes off the bench when Robinson needs a breather.

“Well, we got more than enough,’’ Thibodeau said. “Nate needs to step up and Marquis needs to step up. So we’ll go from there.’’

Three keys in facing the Thunder:

1. Ball safety – Thibodeau has been saying it over and over again to his team, but the Bulls are not good enough offensively to giveaway possessions with turnovers, especially against dynamic offensive teams like the Spurs, Heat, and now the Thunder. That means Robinson and Teague have to make better decisions against an Oklahoma City team that can put you back on your heels.

2. Deng it – Luol Deng will likely draw the matchup with Kevin Durant, and the best way to slow the Thunder All-Star down is make him have to work on defense. That means a lot of cutting and slashing for Deng, with or without the ball in his hands.

3. Getting big – The Bulls won the rebound battle with OKC in the first meeting between the two teams back in November, and still lost the game 97-91. But the activity of the frontline of Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Deng made it possible for the Bulls to even be in that game late. They need to show up tonight, especially on the glass. OKC can turn a rebound into a fastbreak with the best of them, so it will be imperative to make that tougher by controlling the glass.



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