Tag:Luol Deng
Posted on: March 1, 2012 12:11 am
Edited on: March 1, 2012 12:19 am

Bulls, Rose take something away from San Antonio

Posted by Royce Young

Rose closed the door on San Antonio Wednesday . (Getty Images)

There are certain moments in a season you can take with you. Certain moments you can put in your back pocket to call back on at a later time. Certain moments that are building blocks for the bigger picture.

Derrick Rose had a few of those moments Wednesday against the Spurs.

It's not just that he had a good game -- 29 points and four assists in just 30 minutes. It's that he came up big in big moments. Not that that's anything new. He won an MVP last season for it. But two shots against the Spurs stick out. The push shot off the backboard with the Bulls up one to make it 81-78 with 1:46 left. Then the jumper right after it answering a Tim Duncan hook to make it 83-80 with 1:09 left.

The Spurs charging the Bulls, their home crowd behind them, Gary Neal burying everything, and there Rose steps up with back-to-back baskets. Those type of shots aren't for the faint of heart. They're the type of shots you expect your star to make for you. That's why teams like Oklahoma City, Miami and Chicago have the best records. Because they have guys they can rely upon in those crazy, desperate moments.

Those are the moments the Bulls, and more specifically Rose, struggled with against the Heat last postseason. Those moments of finding looks, finding space to score and coming up with big baskets as another talented team stared you down. Rose couldn't shake free of the Heat. But against the Spurs, he came up with two big baskets as the Spurs hounded and doubled him. Then when San Antonio over-rotated to compensate for Rose, he kicked out to Ronnie Brewer who swung it Luol Deng for the dagger triple.

Smart basketball almost always wins. Almost. The Chicago formula has never been all that complicated. It's basically been grit things out, bottle you up offensively and hope No. 1 can carry the load just enough. It's worked a whole lot. The Bulls finished with the best record in the East last season and with Wednesday's 96-89 win, they're 28-8.

But against teams like the Heat, that formula failed, mainly because Rose couldn't hold up his end. Not for a lack of trying, but simply because he either couldn't find enough air to breathe from Miami's defense, or because he just missed a contested shot. Didn't happen against the Spurs, a team that's been wonderful at home (13-1 in San Antonio before Wednesday) and a team notorious for devising quality gameplans for stopping talented opponents.

The game showcased what makes Rose one of the toughest, most competitive winners in the league. He banged knees with Tony Parker in the first half and writhed on the ground in pain. No bother for the MVP, who checked back in and went to work. He would've had a decent excuse had he faded late in the game -- bad back, bruised knee, toe issues -- but Rose instead finished strong. He started the game 6-15 from the floor. He hit four of final eight attempts, including a perfect 8-8 from the line.

It was precisely these type of performances last season that won Rose the MVP. People could see how important he was to the Bulls' success, how he essentially had to drag that band of above average role players to an elite status. But when you deal with the pain of faltering in the big moments, something Rose puts squarely on his shoulders, it changes you. Those jumpers you hit in crunch-time against top tier teams like the Spurs mean a little more. They're something you can recall, something you can rely upon as you gear up for later showdowns.

Each time Rose closes for the Bulls, he's one step closer to being ready for what the Eastern playoffs will throw at him. On back-to-back nights, he made big shots for the Bulls. If you hit enough of them, they kind of start to become habit. They aren't so daunting anymore, don't carry that same pressure. Rose has always been willing to take the shots. Now he's making them. And that's something he can take with him.
Posted on: February 12, 2012 10:56 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2012 9:56 am

Derrick Rose and the Bulls' big picture

Derrick Rose is out with back spasms, but it turns out it's been a recurring issue. (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore 

The fact that Derrick Rose (back) missed Sunday's game against the Celtics normally wouldn't raise red flags -- until it was reported that he will see a back specialist Monday and has been experiencing pain in his back for some time. That raises the following questions:

--Why are we just finding out Derrick Rose has been dealing with back spasms for a week?

--Why are the Bulls, who are quite secretive about injuries, burning Rose and Luol Deng at both ends through injuries?

--What happens if coach Tom Thibodeau, notorious for too many minutes on key personnel, pushes them too far -- particularly in a condensed season?

We start with this from the Chicago Tribune in regards to when exactly this back issue popped up for Rose: 
"It's been hurting the whole trip," Rose said. "I just played through it. It tended to get worse after every game. I was really worried about it. But I'm trying to stay positive. I don't know what the diagnosis is. I just know my back is not right."

Rose said he doesn't know what prompted the pain or exactly when it started. He was seen getting stretched on the sideline during stoppages of play as far back as the second game of the trip, on Jan. 30 in Washington.

Rose played spectacularly at New York and Milwaukee, skipped the second half of the Feb. 6 game in New Jersey, struggled through 22 minutes on Wednesday in New Orleans and sat on Friday in Charlotte.

"It just came from out of nowhere," Rose said. "That's the scary thing about it. ... I could barely walk (after New Orleans). It's killing me not being able to play, especially this game, or when I do play my minutes are definitely down. Hopefully, I'll get treatments and it calms down. If not, I'll take my time."
via Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose will see back specialist Monday - chicagotribune.com.

Wait, so Rose has had this issue for a few weeks and has been playing on it?

OK, so not so surprising. NBA players are always dealing with a variety of ailments. Players play through pain on a regular basis and if they were held out because of every bit of tightness or discomfort they would never play. This season measn it's worse than usual.

But if Rose is different. He's already dealt with multiple issues this year, most recently an ankle sprain that held him out multiple games. The account given by Rose indicates that he had a problem, played through it, it got worse, played through it, it got worse, and he played through it.

Bulls' head coach Tom Thibodeau is notorious for playing his guys too many minutes, with Luol Deng the most extreme example, logging 35-plus minutes even in blowouts. There have been questions about whether Thibodeau is risking damaging his players and running them down with a long and grueling playoff run still yet to go. You would think that with Rose being the MVP, making up the vast majority of the offense, its best and most important player, and the key to any championship run the Bulls may have, that there would be an emphasis on resting him to keep him fresh as to avoid running him down. Instead, the Bulls played him against three lottery/borderline lottery teams when they already have a multiple-game lead on the Heat for the top spot in the East and even if they were to hold Rose out a month, could very well still be in the top three. Rose could sit the rest of the season and still be a top-five seed.

The Bulls are pretty secretive about injuries. Nearly everything is "day-to-day, gametime decision." Luol Deng tore a ligament in his wrist. Day-to-day, gametime decision. Derrick Rose can't move or breathe. Day-to-day, gametime decision. And much like the Patriots in football, it works. It keeps things hidden from the opponent. But versus the NFL, with limited media availability, the NBA plays nightly, which means these situations seem to pop up constantly. 

To be clear, it's not that the Bulls are forcing him out there, nor are they being irresponsible. Rose and Deng have both played well on their injuries.  They know how they feel. They know if they can play. But there's also a heightened sense of responsibility to one another the Bulls possess and it seems to border on the pathological. Guys play through pain all the time, but this season has to be about thinking long-term. You can't survive in this schedule with an injury, and the results are piling up on the Bulls. 

Hopefully the specialist discovers nothing of note, and Rose is able to return to the floor. But questions about what cost the Bulls are putting into their regular season record at the cost of their long-term durability will persist.
Posted on: January 30, 2012 8:00 am
Edited on: January 30, 2012 10:45 am

Dwight Howard open to playing in Chicago

Howard says he would love to play with Rose in Chicago. (Getty Images)

By Matt Moore

Oh, thank goodness. It had been almost 24 hours without a prospective landing place for Dwight Howard popping up. I was starting to feel alone and sad. 

Thankfully, the Chicago Tribune spoke with Howard this week on the question all Bulls fans want to know. Does he really not want to play with Derrick Rose? The Magic's big man says as long as the Big Guy upstairs is down with it, he'd absolutely play next to the MVP. 

"If I could play with Derrick right now and God wanted that to happen, it will happen," Howard told the newspaper. "It has nothing to do with me not wanting to play with Derrick Rose. I love him. That's my brother."

via ChicagoTribune.com's "Dwight Howard: Orlando center Dwight Howard on long-shot trade to Chicago Bulls: If God wanted that to happen, it will happen."

Howard also denied any sort of marketing complication with Adidas would keep him from wanting to join the Bulls. Previous reports said Howard was possibly resisting the idea of playing in Chicago, whether due to complications with being "the man" next to Rose or the market when compared to New York or Los Angeles, or some other issue, like the weather. Howard could simply be playing the PR game to leave all of his options open. He's likely amiable to playing in Chicago, but still prefers the warm spotlight of L.A. or the fuzzy fur coats in Brooklyn.

But Howard would be wise to consider Chicago -- both for himself and the franchise he's likely dumping. A trade with the Bulls would be easiest to facilitate because they have quality veteran players to package in exchange for Howard, which the Magic are said to covet. With a full stock of draft picks, young players and sub-stars like Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah, the Bulls could take on Howard's salary and one of the Magic's overpaid contracts. For Chicago, putting Howard next to Rose would be phenomenal -- and giving Tom Thibodeau the best defensive player in the league could create the best defense in league history, depending on whether Luol Deng were sent away in such a trade. 

Posted on: January 29, 2012 6:48 pm

Five big takeaways from Bulls-Heat

Posted by Royce Young

Round one went to the Heat, but not much separates Miami and Chicago. (Getty Images)

For the first time since Game 5 of the Eastern Confernce Finals where the Heat put together a massive comeback -- or the Bulls choked away a big lead, depending on perspective -- the Bulls and Heat matched up Sunday in Miami. It went as expected, down to the wire, with a couple key possessions decided it as Miami slid by, 97-93.

It was a game that will be played three more times during the regular season and likely one we'll see four, five, six or maybe seven more times in the postseason. It's one of what will be many more, but here are five big things to take away from the first matchup.

1. The final minute was pretty much perfect. Why? Because it was a total mess. Or as Kevin Garnett might say, a bar fight. The Bulls clawed back to finally have a shot at their first lead of the game as Derrick Rose stepped to the line with Chicago down 94-93 with 22 seconds left. Of note: Rose was 12-12 from the line to that point and had made all 28 free throws he'd attempted in the fourth quarter this season. He missed the first short. He missed the second long. The Heat gained possession and Joakim Noah was forced to foul LeBron James.

So it was LeBron's turn to finish the game at the line. He missed the first short. He missed the second long.

And that's when things started to get weird.

Off the second miss, there was an inadvertant whistle as Dwyane Wade saved the ball and Miami appeared to regain possession. The officials decided to jump it up at mid-court, but Monty McCutchen's toss was incredibly lopsided as LeBron easily won it against Taj Gibson. The Bulls fouled, Mario Chalmers stepped to the line with 13 seconds left. He made the first, missed the second and the ball somehow squirted through Carlos Boozer's arms as he called timeout. Rose grabbed it, got the timeout called and the Bulls, after all of that, had the ball with nine seconds left and a chance to tie it or win.

Rose got free and had a decent look for 2 as Richard Hamilton stood wide open in the corner. Rose came up short, the Heat grabbed the ball and finished off the Bulls in a completely fitting finish to a wild, entertaining game between the East's top two teams.

2. LeBron v. Rose. Both were absolutely spectacular. Rose finished with 34, LeBron 35. It was a show of two of the most electric players with the ball in their hands. Everything you'd want from a Heat-Bulls game.

The Heat didn't use LeBron on Rose much in the game like they did in the Eastern Finals, but LeBron did switch to Rose one time -- the Bulls final possession. Rose was terrific despite missing the free throws and 17 of his 28 shots, but he did it abusing Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole. With the Bulls in a position to win or tie, LeBron switched to Rose.

Chicago ran a quick little set that got the ball to Rose isolated at the top of the key on LeBron. Rose got an on-ball screen, slipped past LeBron and jumpstopped at an elbow. Two Heat defenders stepped up, Udonis Haslem flopped to try and draw a charge and Rose was left with an open 15-footer. Which of course he missed.

But for the first 47:51 of the game, the Heat resisted having LeBron guard Rose, like he did so much of in the Eastern Finals. I couldn't help but wonder if it was an intentional switch to try and keep LeBron off of Rose and let the Heat defend the reiging MVP collectively, but it's almost like Erik Spoelstra was saving it as his secret weapon, just in case. As the two teams go forward against each other, it's definitely something to watch for.

3. Rose still has to do too much. There's a key difference between the Bulls and Heat: Rose defers to Richard Hamilton, Kyle Korver, Carlos Boozer and Ronnie Brewer. LeBron defers to Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. A crucial distinction.

The Bulls are mostly in a position where either they have to kill the offensive glass and create multiple shot possessions or play incredible defense and win an ugly 80-78 game. Or hope that Rose plays an entirely flawless game.

The good news for Chicago is that all three of those things are entirely possible. The Bulls did a great job creating second opportunities, played solid defense and Rose was really good. But still, they didn't get enough of all three. I'm not so sure the Heat are all that much better than the Bulls, but I do think Chicago's margin for error is much smaller.

4. Luol Deng matters, a lot. Forgotten in all of this is Chicago's second best player didn't play. Luol Deng, a guy that gives the Bulls almost 16 points and 7.5 rebounds a game was out with a wrist and hand injury. Not only did the Bulls miss the extra offensive punch Deng gives, but they missed most his defensive ability.

Deng would've been the primary defender on LeBron, but instead Chicago was forced to rotate guys like Ronnie Brewer, Rip Hamilton and big guys like Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah on him. Not ideal for the Bulls and it's a big reason LeBron exploded for 35 points. You can't take something away from this game without remembering that the Bulls were minus Deng. He means way too much to them, especially for the reason he's their guy to stick on No. 6.

5. A seven-game series between these two would be terrific. I'm not entirely sure who the favorite would be, but if this game is any indication, it will likely come down to either Derrick Rose carrying his Bulls, or a combination of LeBron and Wade doing the same for Miami. It's a wonderful contrast between a top heavy squad with three amazing players against a deep roster headed by one incredible player.

Sunday, Wade wasn't great scoring 15 points on 4-16 shooting, but that's the design of the Heat. One guy didn't get it done, so another stepped up. In this case, it was LeBron and Chris Bosh (24 points, 12 rebounds). Bosh is a linchpin in that when Deng is healthy, the Bulls really can defend the Heat well. There likely will be games where Wade and LeBron are struggling and Bosh has to outclass Boozer inside to give Miami easy points.

There's a lot of stuff going on between these two teams. A lot of matchup issues, adjustments and big players making big plays. They're on a crash course to see each other again in the Eastern Finals and as Sunday showed, it'll likely be a beautiful mess.
Posted on: January 29, 2012 2:37 pm
Edited on: January 29, 2012 2:49 pm

Bulls F Luol Deng (wrist) out vs. Heat

Posted by Ben Golliver

Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng will not play during Sunday's showdown game against the Miami Heat due to an ongoing wrist injury, according to the Chicago Tribune. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau reportedly told reports that Deng is "very close" to a return, but it will not come in the first 2011-2012 match-up between last season's Eastern Conference Finalists.

The Bulls announced this week that Deng suffered a torn ligament in his left hand/wrist. Deng had circled Sunday's tilt with the Heat, who eliminated the Bulls from last season's playoffs, as a possible return date. The game is set to tip at 3:30 EST at American Airlines Arena in Miami.

Deng, 26, is averaging 15.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 steals in 38.3 games for Chicago this season. He missed three games with the wrist injury this week and last played against the Charlotte Bobcats on Jan. 21.

The paper also reported that guard Richard Hamilton is a gametime decision with a groin injury and that guard C.J. Watson would sit out with a wrist injury. The Associated Press reported just before tip that Hamilton will start for Chicago.
Posted on: January 26, 2012 11:30 am

Luol Deng wants to return Sunday

Deng with no regard for Luol's life. (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore

Luol Deng may be a little insane. We may need to check to see if Tom Thibodeau has done something bad to his wiring during practice. Because what Deng's talking about is just beyond crazy. 

Deng's torn ligament in his left wrist is in all likelihood different and more severe than the one Kobe Bryant suffered and is playing through. It's a testament to Bryant's intensity that he's gunning his way through it. And Deng wants to join him on the floor, despite doctor's orders. Form the Chicago Tribune:  
Hardened by past questions about his toughness and buoyed by the Bulls' championship potential, an upbeat Luol Deng will try to play through a torn ligament in his left wrist that sources say doctors suggested he have surgery to repair.

"I know it sounds terrible, but I really think I'll be fine," Deng said.

Deng even is telling teammates he hasn't ruled out playing in Sunday's game against the Heat, though that seems unlikely after coach Tom Thibodeau conceded Deng is "going to be out awhile."
via Chicago Bulls: Luol Deng determined to play - Chicago Tribune.

So the doctors say you really need to get surgery, and you say you'll play Sunday. We may need to stage an intervention for Lue.

The biggest differential is that Deng still has several years left on his career arc. The Lakers' window is closing, and Bryant is desperate to obtain that sixth ring. Deng is searching for his first, but the Bulls' window is propped open for the foreseeable future with Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson, Joakim Noah, and even a few more years of Carlos Boozer. Deng risking permanent damage to his wrist, kind of an important joint, is admirable but also exceptionally risky. If nothing else, the Bulls medical staff should make sure they keep him out as long as will at least get the wrist stabilized a bit more. 

Deng is gritty, tough, relentless, an All-Star caliber player. But the Bulls' need for Deng go far beyond the next four months.  

Posted on: January 24, 2012 3:00 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 3:06 pm

Luol Deng has torn ligament in left hand

Luol  Deng will miss "a couple of weeks" with a torn ligament in his hand. (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore

The signs were ominous on Monday and on Tuesday word from the Bulls came out that it was as bad as feared. The Chicago Tribune reports the Bulls announced Tuesday that Deng has a torn ligament in his left hand. At this point, Deng is planning on not having surgery, resting the injury in the short-term, then trying to play through it. The Bulls announced that he is "week to week" and that he would be out a "couple weeks." If that sounds vague, that's because it is. There's no way to tell how the injury will heal without surgery. 

The Bulls will miss Deng most out of all their injured players (including MVP Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson who have both missed time in the past week). He's been an anchor for the team on both sides of the ball. He's one of the premier wing defenders in the league, and has been actually scoring at a ridiculously high clip especially from mid-range this season. 

Kobe Bryant suffered a similar injury, at least in description, and has managed to play through it. He has at times struggled with his shot but also rattled off a string of 40-point game, so it is something that can be treated before games to allow players to play through it. For the short term, however, Deng is out and the Bulls will have to rally. In his absence, Ronnie Brewer has stepped up and is shooting 45 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range. The Bulls have rallied past all their other injuries, but you have to wonder if an long-term injury to Deng will slow them down, at least somewhat.  Their depth at point guard without Derrick Rose was considerably better than it is at the small forward spot behind Brewer and Deng.
Posted on: January 23, 2012 8:45 am
Edited on: January 23, 2012 9:46 pm

Deng out vs. Nets, surgery a possibility?

By Matt Moore

Update Monday 9:22 p.m.: Deng did not play Monday, as expected, and after consultations with doctors, the new does not sound good. The Bulls have yet to release a formal statement as to the extent of Deng's injury beyond the initial wrist sprain diagnosis, but Tom Thibodeau's words to reporters before Monday's game vs. New Jersey do not spark confidence for Bulls fans. From the AP: 
The news on Deng wasn't great, with coach Tom Thibodeau saying he was "still consulting some doctors" and remains day to day after being injured late in Saturday's game against Charlotte. Asked if Deng would need surgery, Thibodeau said, "I don't know. I don't think so, would be my guess."

Losing Deng for an extended period would be a big blow for a team that entered Monday's game with the league's best record. He tore a ligament in his right wrist near the end of his 2004-05 rookie season.
So the news went from "Deg wants to play" to "Deng is totally not playing" to "Deng is probably not going to have surgery, maybe." The Bulls can afford to lose Deng for a week, for two weeks. After that it gets dicey. He just does too much on the Bulls. We'll keep ou updated on his condition. 


There's a running joke with Bulls fans that Tom Thibodeau prays for overtime each game so he can have more minutes to play Luol Deng. Deng is fourth among all players in minutes per game, playing more than 38 minutes per contest, this despite the shortened schedule and the fact that the Bulls are usually up by double digits in the fourth quarter of most of their games. And Deng has upheld exceptionally well so far, but a wrist injury will likely keep him out Monday vs. the Nets in Chicago. 

From the Chicago Tribune:
Deng underwent an MRI on his sprained left wrist Sunday, results of which were not immediately available. He said late Saturday he didn't think the injury would sideline him for a lengthy period.

However, with a normal week featuring no back-to-back games in this compressed schedule, not to mention a Nets lineup that starts three guards, Deng could sit for the first time this season.
via Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose vows to return Monday, while Luol Deng may miss game - chicagotribune.com.

Deng's not the only Bull with injury issues. Derrick Rose is battling turf toe most notably, but Taj Gibson is out with a sprained ankle and John Lucas III is also potentially sidelined. The Bulls pride themselves on their total commitment and depth, but at some point, you have to manage the injuries effectively to make sure the team is in the best shape for the long run and especially the playoffs. 

The Bulls will still probably thump the Nets, because, well, they're the Nets, and the Bulls have been rolling even without the MVP against better competition this week. Deng's loss is a bit bigger if he sits, however. He does so much on both sides of the ball for the Bulls, he's honestly nearly as valuable as Rose. But without a single wing threat on the Nets outside of outside shooter Anthony Morrow, this may be the best game to sit Deng, so he can get healthy. 

And go back to playing 40 minutes a game.
Category: NBA
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