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Hamilton, Boozer make most of opportunity

MILWAUKEE -- Chicago Bulls starters Richard Hamilton and forward Carlos Boozer hadn’t played the amount of minutes they would have liked in crunch time over the team’s previous two games heading into Saturday night.

Hamilton saw 17 minutes and didn’t play in the fourth quarter in Wednesday’s loss to the Houston Rockets, and Boozer had played 25 minutes and just part of the final quarter. In their loss to the Portland Trail Blazers earlier in the week, they each played 22 minutes and both sat out the fourth quarter.

On Saturday, the two players got together before the game and pledged to each other to play as hard as they could.

The plan paid off as they both started off strong, and because of that Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau allowed them to finish, as well. Boozer scored a team-high 22 points and grabbed a game-high 19 rebounds, and Hamilton scored 22 points in the Bulls’ 93-86 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, helping the Bulls snap a three-game losing streak.

“I think you never know how long you’re going to be out there,” Boozer said. “You don’t know if you’re going to go back out there in the fourth quarter. Me and Rip talked about it before the game, just be aggressive while you’re out, see what happens. That’s kind of our mentality the last few games. It was going great tonight.

“It was great (being out there.) We want to be out there every fourth quarter. That’s Thibs’ decision. ... This is his show. He runs it. He puts who he wants out there, and we just go with the flow.”

When Hamilton was asked whether it was important for him to be playing in the fourth quarter, he smiled and said very little.

“Like I said, it was fun,” Hamilton said. “It was like any other game.”

One noticeable difference in Saturday’s game was the Bulls made a concentrated effort to put the 6-foot-7 Hamilton in the post and create matchups problems for 6-foot-3 Bucks guard Monta Ellis and 6-foot-1 Brandon Jennings. Hamilton hit five of his six shots around the baseline or in the paint.

“It was fun,” Hamilton said of posting up. “I enjoy it. I like it. So it was good guys were trying to find me and stuff like that.”

Thibodeau was also pleased.

“I thought he played a good game,” Thibodeau said of Hamilton. “He got in the post. He got a good balance. He ran the floor hard. I thought he made great effort on defensive transition. I thought he did a really good job.”

Thibodeau was even happier with Boozer, especially his rebounding. Boozer had eight offensive and 11 defensive rebounds. His biggest offensive rebound came when he threw home a slam dunk off a Joakim Noah miss with 29.8 seconds remaining to give the Bulls an 89-85 advantage.

“I thought he was terrific,” Thibodeau said. “I thought he played hard. He made great effort on the board. The rebounding was a huge key.”