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Luol Deng, Jimmy Butler closer to return from injuries

Updated: December 9, 2013 10:49PM

Finally, some help could be on the way for the Bulls.

Veteran reserve guard Mike James (knee) practiced Monday, while Luol Deng (Achilles) and Jimmy Butler (turf toe) shot around and continued to move forward in the rehab process.

“Lu is improved,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “But he didn’t practice [Monday]. He did some shooting. Jimmy is improved. Didn’t practice but did some shooting and is moving a lot better. Jimmy is probably at 75 to 80 percent. Got to get some conditioning and see where he is the next day and the next.’’

The Bulls host the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night, and Deng will be a game-time decision after missing the game Saturday.

Butler last played Nov. 18 and has missed the last nine games. The Bulls are 2-7 without Butler in that time and would love to have him back by next week.

That still doesn’t change the fact that guard Derrick Rose (right knee) is out for the ­season, but the Bulls could use some cohesiveness with the ­rotation.

“We know we have some moving parts,’’ Thibodeau said. “We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We have to keep grinding, get ready for the next one, come out with the right mind-set. I like the spirit of our team.’’

“It’s challenging, but I think we’ve handled [the injury problems] OK,’’ guard Kirk Hinrich said. “It happens in this game. The season is a long grind and there’s going to be guys getting hurt. Every team deals with it. You just try and deal with it the best way you can.’’


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