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Dunleavy’s value for Bulls becoming clearer after strong finish

Chicago Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy (34) drives basket past Detroit Pistons' Jonas Jerebko during second half an NBA preseasbasketball game

Chicago Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy (34) drives to the basket past Detroit Pistons' Jonas Jerebko during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game in Chicago on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013. The Bulls won 96-81. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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Updated: November 12, 2013 10:52PM



There was a reason the Bulls were thrilled when they signed veteran guard/forward Mike Dunleavy Jr. in the offseason.

It took a little while, but the justification came late in Monday’s win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Dunleavy scored 10 of his season-high 15 points in the fourth quarter, including a huge three-pointer, and went 5-for-5 from the free-throw line.

‘‘It’s just one of those things where it finds you,’’ Dunleavy said. ‘‘You come off some screens, you make some shots, you make your way to the free-throw line. Some things happen like that. But I’m getting more and more comfortable on the offensive end, particularly with my shot.’’

While coach Tom Thibodeau said he still has faith in starting guard Jimmy Butler, it was nice to see Dunleavy come in and pick up the slack.

‘‘I’m someone that feels like I can come in any time of the game, and I expect myself to make shots,’’ Dunleavy said. ‘‘I like to think that I don’t need to be in a rhythm — certainly it helps — but you never know when you’re going to be called upon. So you get two, three shots a night — I’ve got to make them. I’m not concerned with how many shots I take. I’m more concerned with how many I make.’’

Deng undeterred

Forward Luol Deng predicted in the preseason that the Bulls were headed for a ‘‘special year.’’ After a 3-3 start, he isn’t backing down from that.

‘‘It’s early, and we still have a lot to work on, but we have the talent to do something special,’’ Deng said. ‘‘It’s staying focused and keep working hard. A lot of things happen in a season. It’s an up-and-down, and the key is to keep level-headed, keep working.’’

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com



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