PHILADELPHIA -- Rip Hamilton was billed as the missing piece on a championship-caliber team when he signed with the Chicago Bulls this offseason. On Sunday, he watched from the bench in the fourth quarter as his team -- playing without the superstar he was expecting to complement -- dropped its third consecutive playoff game.
Needless to say, this isn't the journey Hamilton figured he would be embarking when the playoffs started last week.
"It happens," Hamilton said after Sunday's Game 4 loss to the Sixers that put Chicago in a 3-1 series hole. "This is the game, this is the NBA, this is the playoffs. You want to perform at your best and you want to win games and you want to win a World Championship, but nothing comes easy. If it was easy everybody would have championships, so we just got to figure it out."
After scoring 19 points on just seven shots in Game 1, Hamilton has struggled from the field in the past three games, shooting just 11-for-34. It got so bad on Sunday that Thibodeau decided to sit Hamilton in favor of veteran guard Kyle Korver.
After dealing with various injuries throughout the season, Hamilton admitted that the Bulls' past week has been tough to deal with.
"It's hard," he said. "When you're in the playoffs, you can see it all across the league, man, I've never seen this many injuries, especially in a high level like in a playoff series, especially key guys being out. But it is what it is. What are you going to do? It's one of them things that you've got to figure out and hopefully try to win games."
Hamilton, who actually came back from a 3-1 playoff deficit with the Detroit Pistons earlier in his career, knows that the Bulls face a serious uphill battle to get back into this series. When asked what his team needed to do to get a win in Game 5, his answer was telling.
"A lot," he said. "The biggest thing is we have been keeping the game in the 80's where we want the game to be. We kind of contained their transition and things like that, it's just that when we have a lead we got to try and increase it, we can't just play the score and play possession by possession. When we got a lead, like we had the last couple games, we just got to try to put the game away."