Bulls top Suns 92-87 in wake of Deng trade
BY JOE COWLEY Staff Reporter January 7, 2014 9:16PM
Updated: January 7, 2014 11:01PM
The Bulls had all of Tuesday afternoon to hang their heads and feel sorry for themselves in the wake of the trade that sent Luol Deng to the Cavaliers.
By Tuesday night, it was time to take it out on somebody.
Wrong place, wrong time for the Suns.
Thanks to 14 points and 16 rebounds from Joakim Noah, life without Deng on the roster for the first time in nine-plus years started with a 92-87 victory at the United Center. Not that it came easy.
Leading by four points with two minutes left, Kirk Hinrich made a huge three-pointer to increase the lead to seven.
The Suns cut the lead to five but could never get over that hump. After three scoreless possessions, Phoenix (20-13) was forced to foul with 32.4 seconds left. D.J. Augustin iced the game when he made both free throws.
It was the Bulls’ third victory in a row, and they improved to 15-18.
The key for the Bulls will be keeping the momentum going, knowing they are down two All-Stars with injured star Derrick Rose (right knee) lost for the season.
Finally, an apology
Bulls vice president John Paxson admitted that the organization didn’t do a good job after Deng suffered complications with a spinal tap late last season.
Deng received the spinal tap after Game 5 against the Nets and never returned for the postseason.
“We didn’t understand the gravity of it in that moment from his perspective,’’ Paxson said. “That’s on us. Over the summer, we talked to Lu and [agent] Herb [Rudoy] and apologized. That’s something we dropped the ball on and hopefully learned from.’’
Around the rim
Carlos Boozer was sidelined for a second consecutive game with a sore right knee.
◆ With Deng no longer in the picture and Boozer out, the Bulls started Mike Dunleavy and Taj Gibson at the forward spots.
◆ Paxson had no plans to add to the roster just yet, other than Marquis Teague likely being reinstated from the D-League in the next few days.