Aside from numero uno, the Bulls had their regular starting rotation as Richard Hamilton returned from a torn left plantar fascia after having missed the previous 12 games while rehabbing.
While they still have the issues of rebounding to sort out, they had enough to defeat the league-worst Washington Wizards 87-77.
Both Hamilton and Luol Deng were listed as game-time decisions, with the ladder dealing with a sprained right ankle he suffered during the Christmas Day loss to Houston. Both started, with Hamilton only playing just under 15 minutes and Deng playing 37 minutes, surprisingly sitting the final six minutes of the fourth quarter.
Marco Belinelli scored a game-high 17 points off the bench. Carlos Boozer added a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Aside from being outrebounded 56-49, (the most the Bulls have allowed under Coach Tom Thibodeau), it was a nice bounce back game after the disappointment stemming from two straight blow-out losses, and having extra time off to think about them as their Wednesday game at Indiana was cancelled due to weather conditions.
“We’re not playing our best basketball, but we just found a way to win,” Noah said. “It’s a good win for us. We still have to do a better job on the boards. The ball was moving pretty well and we know we missed a lot of shots we usually make. We stayed with it, we got great effort. “
Despite the Wizards (4-24) record, they were able to hang in the game, making the occasional run to draw the attention of Thibodeau, but the outcome never truly seemed in doubt towards the end as Washington only shot 23 percent in the fourth period.
Hamilton scored nine points in 4-of-9 shooting in his return and despite Thibodeau keeping his minutes at a 15-20 minute limit as a precaution, the veteran shooting guard was pleased to be able to do the things his game is based on.
“I felt pretty good,” Hamilton said. “It was sore, but I told the trainers the adrenaline of being out on the floor would [make it] easy for me to not think about the pain. I felt good. I was able to get to my spots on the floor, and that was the biggest thing I was worried about; changing direction, especially when someone is guarding me and having to take a hit.
“The biggest thing for me is being able to come off a screen, stop on a dime, get my shot off and I did that.”
The Bulls next opponent will be the Charlotte Bobcats, who will enter the United Center on Monday on an 18-game losing streak.