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Bulls’ Hamilton has torn plantar fascia in left foot

(MCT) — CHICAGO — The Chicago Bulls announced Sunday that Richard Hamilton’s MRI exam revealed he tore the plantar fascia in his left foot. The release said the veteran shooting guard will return to play when his symptoms permit.

When James Johnson suffered a partially torn plantar fascia as a Bull in 2010, he missed one game. Tearing the plantar fascia actually is better than suffering from plantar fasciitis. One treatment option for the painful latter condition actually is tearing the plantar fascia to begin healing.

Either Marco Belinelli or Jimmy Butler will start at shooting guard. Hamilton could be out a week or more. The Bulls have one roster spot open, but if they sign somebody, that player wouldn’t crack the rotation ahead of Belinelli or Butler.

Hamilton suffered the injury while making a jump pass late in the third quarter Saturday. He retreated to the locker room and, though listed as questionable to return, surprisingly iced the 93-88 victory over the 76ers with three free throws in the waning seconds.

“(Athletic trainer) Fred (Tedeschi) told me we could use him if we needed him,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I thought we needed him.”

Following the game, Hamilton said his foot was sore and he limped to the training room after addressing reporters.

Butler has been seeing more minutes at shooting guard and has teamed with Taj Gibson to give the Bulls a solid defensive presence off the bench.

In general, the Bulls defense has bared more teeth of late. As of Sunday morning, they have crept to fourth in the league in points allowed at 94 per game. They are tied for seventh in opponents’ field-goal percentage at .434.

“I was just happy we got back to stopping guys in the fourth quarter,” Gibson said.

The Bulls improved to 6-1 when holding opponents under 90 points. That’s a far cry from Nov. 18 when the Bulls finished a 1-3 stretch by allowing 100 or more points in four straight games for the first time in Thibodeau’s tenure.

Not surprisingly, the defensive perfectionist isn’t satisfied.

“We’re still not a 48-minute team,” Thibodeau said. “There are stretches where we play very well defensively, but we have to do it consistently throughout the game.”

Thibodeau said the Bulls have significantly improved in defensive transition but aren’t at the level he seeks in challenging shots. The rebounding has lacked at times though that, too, is improving. The Bulls enjoyed a 50-37 rebounding advantage against the 76ers.

Players expect these upward trends to continue.

“In the past three seasons with Thibs, it just shows as the season goes on we get better as a team,” Luol Deng said. “I expect us to keep getting better.

“It’s coming to that point in the season where teams that really stick with what they do start to show. Every day in practice we go over the same stuff. We work so hard and it’s so many games that guys just get used to what we do and it becomes natural.”

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