Luol Deng’s injury raises some concern for Bulls
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org April 15, 2012 10:14PM
The facts: 7, CSN,
Updated: May 17, 2012 8:15AM
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — It’s never a good thing when there are more ice bags on the floor than sweaty jerseys and unrolled tape, especially with the postseason in sight. But this is the reality of Bulls basketball these days, and forward Luol Deng seems to be the latest poster child.
Deng has been fighting through a torn ligament in his left wrist for most of the year, and the injury seems to be winning. Deng played nearly 45 minutes in the Bulls’ overtime win against the Detroit Pistons on Sunday but was 1-for-8 from the field, scoring two points.
Coach Tom Thibodeau was asked if he’s concerned about resting Deng or at least keeping an eye on his minutes down the stretch.
‘‘If you studied his total minutes, you would see that he’s had plenty of rest this year,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘If you compared his total minutes for the season, don’t forget he’s missed nine games already, so he’s not a guy that’s piled up a ton of minutes.’’
But he admitted the Bulls’ minutes — and Deng’s injury — are something that has to be watched.
‘‘That’s valid,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘I think for [Deng], he knew this is what it would be like. Some days it’s better than others. He still helps us a lot when he’s not scoring. He does so many other things when he’s rebounding the ball. He creates space on the floor because they’re not leaving him. So there’s more space for Derrick [Rose] to operate. We’ll see how it goes.
‘‘He’s getting time off in practice, and maybe we should have him practice and give him the games off. I don’t know.’’
Korver vs. Rip
Kyle Korver was the hero in overtime Sunday, hitting a big three-pointer with 1:24 left and putting the Bulls up by four points, then making two free throws to help ice a 100-94 victory. What Thibodeau will have to decide as the postseason nears is, will it be veteran Rip Hamilton or Korver down the stretch?
Hamilton has been fighting injuries most of the season but was signed before the season started to be the difference-maker.
‘‘I thought Rip was terrific, too,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘We’re going to see how it plays out. Each game, I think Rip does better and better. He had 13 points in 20 minutes [Sunday]. That’s great productivity. He’s coming along just about like I would expect. For a guy that’s missed as much as he’s missed, actually he’s played better than I thought he would at this point.’’
If the Pistons would have held on in the fourth quarter to win, they would have ended a dominant run the Bulls have had over them.
The last time the Pistons beat the Bulls was in their first meeting of the 2008-09 season on Dec. 23, 2008. The streak is now 15 straight.