Palace return would fit Rip Hamilton

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LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 30: Richard Hamilton #32 of the Chicago Bulls dribbles against Mo Williams #25 of the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on December 30, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2011 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Shooting guard Ronnie Brewer started his second consecutive game for Rip Hamilton, who’s still day-to-day with a groin injury.

Hamilton tested his injured groin during pregame warmups. Although he didn’t play, he dressed for the game.

The Bulls visit the Pistons on Wednesday. It would be Hamilton’s first game at the Palace of Auburn Hills since signing with the Bulls. But coach Tom Thibodeau said Hamilton’s homecoming – he played nine seasons with Detroit and won an NBA championship – is not a factor in determining his availability.

“I haven’t even thought about that, and I don’t want him thinking about that,” Thibodeau said. “I want him thinking about [Tuesday’s] game, and then when we get [to Detroit], he can think about that. He’s a great veteran. He’s been limited in practice the last few days, but he does whatever he can. He’s right there, studying. He does his job, gets there early with his rehab, stays late.”

Hamilton injured his groin in the third quarter of the victory Friday night against the Clippers at Staples Center.

Tough customer

Backup point guard C.J. Watson arrived at the United Center wearing a sling on his sprained left elbow and is day-to-day. Thibodeau expects Watson back shortly and said he could join the team for the three-game trip to Detroit, Orlando and Atlanta.

Watson sprained his elbow while diving for a loose ball in the fourth quarter of the blowout win Sunday over the Grizzlies.

“The big thing with him is getting the swelling out of the elbow, and then it’s a pain-threshold thing,” Thibodeau said. “As soon as he’s ready to go, he’ll go. He’s as tough as they come.”

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