Updated: June 4, 2013 6:42AM
The Bulls’ injured list, already incomprehensibly long, took another big hit when the team tweeted 10 minutes before Game 6 Thursday that forward Luol Deng (flu) would be scratched.
Marco Belinelli moved into the starting lineup at shooting guard, and Jimmy Butler moved to Deng’s small-forward slot.
A very fragile-looking Deng left the United Center walking gingerly through the hallway just before tipoff. Deng reportedly went to a hospital emergency room for tests and treatment.
Ninety minutes before tipoff, coach Tom Thibodeau had revealed that guard Nate Robinson, the hero of Game 4, also was among the sick and wounded. Robinson has been battling the flu along with Deng and Taj Gibson, Thibodeau said. The 5-9 Robinson started. Gibson also dressed.
The Bulls’ response, though, was similar to Monty Python’s Black Knight, who said, “Just a flesh wound,’’ while losing limb after limb.
“It’s unusual, but it’s all around [the NBA],’’ Thibodeau said. “If you want to use it as an excuse, you can. Preferably, we won’t.’’
Guard Kirk Hinrich did not dress for the second straight game because of a bruised left calf.
“It’s brutal,’’ Hinrich said. “All year, we’ve kind of been looking forward to this time. This is the second time I’ve missed playoff action, and it’s never any fun. You never want to end a year like that.’’
On the bright side, Thibodeau said center Joakim Noah’s painful plantar fasciitis was improving.
“He doesn’t have the same soreness,’’ Thibodeau said. “He’s moving better.’’
With Robinson ailing and Hinrich in civilian clothes alongside main man Derrick Rose, there was speculation that Thibodeau might turn to rookie Marcus Teague.
Thibodeau didn’t exactly give Teague a ringing endorsement, tersely saying he has “a lot’’ of confidence in the former Kentucky Wildcat “because he’s the next guy up,’’ then adding, “We have other guys who can play the point, too.’’
Teague, who played only three minutes in the first five games of the series, had two points, an assist and a steal in Game 6.
“It’s my first playoff, but I ain’t really nervous; I’m kind of excited,’’ Teague said. “I’m just going to be ready. Come off the bench and play hard, defend and run the team.’’
“Just try to keep [Deron Williams] out of the paint,’’ he said. “He creates a lot of things offensively for them. Everything runs through him.’’