Robinson helps out in Hinrich's absence

CHICAGO -- Chicago Bulls point guard Nate Robinson said Tuesday he was confident he could replace starting point guard Kirk Hinrich if Hinrich’s groin injury is severe.

Hinrich suffered the injury Tuesday during the second quarter of the Bulls’ 94-89 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder and did not return to the game in the second half. Hinrich had eight points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals in 14:43 before departing the game. In his place, Robinson played starter’s minutes, finishing with eight points, four rebounds and four assists in 19:26.

“That’s what a team is for, that’s what a teammate is for,” said Robinson, who has started 81 regular-season games in his career. “One guy goes down, another guy steps up, same with Marquis (Teague.) If I go down, Marquis is ready. I’ve always been there to substitute for whichever guy needs to be subbed. I just go in and do my job and do it to the best of my abilities.”

Robinson has improved since his early preseason woes. He scored 24 points recently against the Milwaukee Bucks and has looked more comfortable running Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau’s offense. Thibodeau spoke positively of Robinson again after Tuesday’s win.

“I thought Nate played well,” said Thibodeau, whose team improved to 4-2 in the preseason. “I thought the second half he was trying to run our offense, and the intentions by everyone were good. But they weren’t what we needed. We hit a lull at the end of the third quarter where we held onto it, and guys were trying to make it go our way. You can’t do that individually. You have to do that collectively. You need ball movement and player movement. I just didn’t think we did that.”

Robinson agreed with his coach.

“Not necessarily just holding the ball,” Robinson said. “Each guy doesn’t want to step on the next guy’s toes. We’re still trying to get a feel where guys are on the court, just trying to play. Sometimes the ball stops a little bit. As long as we keep it hopping like coach says, keep the ball hopping, we’ll be OK.”

While Robinson has looked more and more like a reliable option, Teague, the Bulls’ 2012 first-round pick, still hasn’t appeared comfortable. Teague, who is 19 years old, has averaged less than five minutes a game and scored a total of four points this preseason. He was 0 for 1 from the field and grabbed one rebound in 3:51 on Tuesday.

Despite Teague’s inexperience, Thibodeau said he’s confident in turning to Teague if Hinrich had to sit additional time.

“He’s done a good job,” Thibodeau said. “He’s practicing well. He’s learning the game, the NBA game. He’s learning his teammates. Each day he’s gotten better, so if he’s called upon I expect him to play well.”