Chicago Sun-Times

March 2010 Archives

Deng is hoping to return this weekend

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Luol Deng, who's missed 11 games with a strained right calf, did some running and shooting at the Berto Center Wednesday and said he hopes to play at least limited minutes on Saturday.

"Yeah, I don't know how much I'll play," he said. "I'll just try to go out there and build my minutes."

Deng suffered the injury Mar. 9 against Utah. He then re-injured it when he ran before a game Mar. 17 in Dallas.

"When I went out there in Dallas, I tried to come too early, did too much too early, and it kind of set me back a little bit," he said. "They were saying that was it for my season. I just tired to do everything I could to get back and help out."

Running on it was the first test. Deng will have to pass others in the next few days to make playing on Saturday (when the Bulls host the Charlotte Bobcats) a reality.

"I haven't done anything on my legs, so it's a little weak and it gets tight real quick," he said.

Johnson returns against Pistons

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Rookie James Johnson (partial tear of plantar fascia tendon) was a surprise starter for tonight's game with the Detroit Pistons.

Johnson worked out before the game and looked good. He convinced coach Vinny Del Negro he was ready to go and was inserted into the starting lineup.

Johnson certainly looked healthy at the start of the game, registering six points and five rebounds in the first quarter.

Johnson missed Saturday's game, but said he would play as soon as the pain subsided enough to let play without hampering the team.

Johnson out with torn foot tendon

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The injury outlook for the Bulls just keeps getting worse. James Johnson is the latest player to go down.

An MRI taken on Friday showed Johnson -- who was filling in injured Luol Deng at small forward -- has a partial tear of the plantar fascia tendon of his right foot. Johnson is out indefinitely and won't play tonight when the Bulls host the New Jersey Nets at the United Center. It's unclear how long Johnson will be sidelined.

"I have no idea," coach Vinny Del Negro said. "No one has any idea right now how his foot is gonna react. He's tried to loosen up [tonight] and he was just in too much pain.

"I don't know how he's gonna feel tomorrow, if he's gonna warm up, if it's gonna be more swollen. There's a possibility he could be out for a little bit just because he did partially tear it. He has swelling, some bleeding, all that.

"Nothing positive."

You could say that about the entire Bulls' injury situation in the second half. Center Joakim Noah and power forward Taj Gibson have battled plantar fasciitis, which is an inflammation of the plantar fascia tendon.

"We're having an epidemic with this problem right now with three guys," Del Negro.

With Deng also out, the Bulls are without their two small forwards. Del Negro opted to start a three-guard lineup against the Nets with Jannero Pargo moving into the starting lineup.

Johnson has MRI

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Bulls rookie James Johnson suffered a strained right foot during Thursday night's nightmarish performance against the Miami Heat. The injury occurred in the first quarter, but Johnson returned to play an additional 13 minutes and was well enough to throw down a ridiculous follow dunk in the second half.

Johnson didn't practice Friday and was sent for an MRI. As long the MRI doesn't reveal anything more severe, Johnson should be OK to play when the Bulls host the New Jersey Nets Saturday night at the United Center.

Noah could play '15 to 20 minutes' vs. Heat

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While Brad Miller (left knee and general workload) and Taj Gibson (plantar fasciitis) sat out most of Wednesday's practice at the Berto Center, Joakim Noah participated in most of the workout and against stayed after to do some extra work.

Noah, who sat out three weeks with plantar fasciitis of the left foot, maintains he is pain free and he'll play more when the Bulls host the Miami Heat Thursday night at the United Center.

"Maybe three or four [segments] depending on how his wind is, time and foul trouble," coach Vinny Del Negro said. "We'll up his minutes a little bit and try to play him in segments for his conditioning."

Del Negro didn't want to commit to a specific number of minutes -- Noah was limited to 12 in the Bulls' last game -- but said: "Maybe 15 or 20 depending on the game and try to get them in spurts where he can play three, four, five minutes at a time and then get him some rest an build his conditioning up.

"It really depends on how his foot reacts after today's practice and how he's feeling tomorrow."

Rose, Noah to play vs. Sixers

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PHILADELPHIA -- Point guard Derrick Rose (sprained left wrist) and center Joakim Noah will see action tonight when the Bulls face the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wachovia Center.

Rose will be in the starting lineup and has no limitations on his minutes. Noah, though, will be limited to about 10 minutes in the game.

"Let's see how he does tonight," Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said of Noah. "He's limited to 10 minutes -- around 10 minutes, nine, 11, something around 10 - and we'll see how he feels and get him some therapy and rest and see how his foot reacts.

"Hopefully, we'll get him ready for Monday [against Houston]."

Plane trouble grounds Bulls

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As if the Bulls didn't have enough problems, their trip to Philadelphia following Friday night's 92-85 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers at the United Center was delayed at least two hours.

The airplane the Bulls were supposed to take had mechanical issues, so they had to wait for a substitute.

Deng out another '2 to 3 weeks'

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About an hour before tip-off of Friday night's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the United Center, I asked coach Vinny Del Negro if it was safe to assume Luol Deng was out for Saturday's game at Philadelphia.

That's when Del Negro dropped the news that Deng won't be playing any time soon -- if at all the remainder of this season.

"Luol is gonna be out two to three weeks probably," Del Negro said. "Luol's gonna be out a while."

As I reported from Dallas on Thursday, Deng was limping noticeably after working out before the game.

"[Deng] tried to warm up a little bit against Dallas," Del Negro said. "He was feeling better every day and thought he was getting close and then he started doing some straight ahead jogging and it really swelled up on him, so it's gonna be two or three weeks. Hopefully, two, but he has more inflammation now than he had before, so that's a setback. He's definitely gonna be out for a little bit."

If Deng is sidelined three weeks, that means he could return for the final five days of the regular season. But it's just as likely he'll miss the rest of the regular season.

Rose a game-time decision vs. Cavs

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The Bulls will wait until pregame warmups tonight before determining if Derrick Rose will play against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the United Center.

Rose has missed the previous three games with a sprained left wrist. He suffered the injury Mar. 11 in Orlando when he was knocked to the court by the Magic's Dwight Howard and braced himself with his left hand.

Bulls severely short-handed once again

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DALLAS -- The Bulls announced this afternoon that point guard Derrick Rose (sprained left wrist) and small forward Luol Deng (strained right calf) won't play tonight against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center.

This will be the third game Rose has missed and the fourth for Deng.

Rookie Taj Gibson (plantar fasciitis of left foot) is listed as probable.

Guard Kirk Hinrich will return to action after sitting out Tuesday at Memphis serving a one-game suspension.

Johnson dropped from starting lineup

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MEMPHIS -- With four starters out and coming off a career-high 20-point performance, rookie James Johnson was a lock for the starting lineup for Tuesday night's game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

But that was before Johnson was late to practice on Monday.

So with Johnson not starting because of a disciplinary action, Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro went with a starting lineup of Jannero Pargo, Acie Law, Flip Murray, Taj Gibson and Brad Miller.

Johnson entered the game following a timeout with 2:27 left in the first quarter.

Rose, Deng out vs. Grizzlies

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Point guard Derrick Rose (sprained left wrist) and small forward Luol Deng (strained right calf) won't play tonight when the Bulls face the Memphis Grizzlies at the FedEx Forum.

With Joakim Noah (plantar fasciitis of left foot) already out injured and with guard Kirk Hinrich suspended for the game, the Bulls will down to one regular start, rookie power forward Taj Gibson.

The Bulls will feature a starting lineup of Jannero Pargo and Flip Murray at guard, Gibson and fellow rookie James Johnson at forward and Brad Miller at center.

Rose 'probably' won't play vs. Memphis

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Derrick Rose said his sprained left wrist improves each day, but it doesn't sound as if the Bulls' point guard will be in the lineup Tuesday night for the road game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Rose didn't do much in practice on Monday. He wants to play in the team's only game this season in the city where he played college ball, but the organization is taking a more cautious approach.

"Right now, they're just taking day-by-day," Rose said. "I've been getting a lot of treatment. [General manager] Gar [Forman] was telling me, 'Don't rush it. If anything, wait until this weekend or Friday's game.'

"I want to play, definitely, because it's Memphis, but if they tell me to wait, I'll wait."

When asked if Rose would play, coach Vinny Del Negro said: "Probably not. We're gonna see how he feel tomorrow at shootaround, but he didn't do much in practice today. Let's just see how he feels."

Hinrich reacts to suspension

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Guard Kirk Hinrich reacted following Bulls practice on Sunday to being suspended for one game for making contact with referee Bennie Adams after being ejected Friday night in Miami:

"I'm just disappointed. Any time you have to miss time when you're healthy is frustrating. I was hoping that wasn't going to be the case, but there's nothing I can do about it now."

Hinrich didn't speak with the media following the game, so he was asked Sunday for his version of the incident.

"I was just following him," Hinrich said of Adams. "I was still upset and then he turned and stuck his elbow out and kind of bumped into me. And then I realized I better leave."

Rose doesn't blame Howard despite deja vu

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Derrick Rose is disappointed he'll miss his first game of the season tonight when the Bulls play the Miami Heat, but Rose knows his situation could have been much worse.

After suffering a left wrist injury Thursday night in Orlando courtesy of another hard foul from Magic center Dwight Howard, Rose was relieved that the results of an MRI taken this morning showed only a sprain and no fracture or ligament damage.

He is listed as day-to-day, but has no idea when he might be able to play again.

"It hurts," Rose said. "I've never had a wrist injury, but you can't dribble the ball. Last night, I had problems just sleeping on it."

When he saw Howard approaching, Rose admits he had a flash back.

"Yeah, I was surprised like everybody else," he said. "I was just thinking, 'Not again.' Right when I got hit, I had a crick in my neck and everything. It was like I was in a car accident or something."

But despite being flattened by Howard twice, Rose doesn't hold any hard feelings toward the 6-11, 265-pound center.

"It's basketball," he said. "You're gonna get hit when you go to the hole. I just have to find a way to be able to when I come out the air land right."

Rose out tonight vs. Miami

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MIAMI -- The Bulls announced that Derrick Rose won't play tonight against the Miami Heat because of a sprained left wrist.

However, the news stemming from the MRI taken of the wrist this morning was overwhelmingly positive. The exam confirmed a sprain with no fracture or ligament damage.

Rose is listed as day-to-day and it is hoped he'll be ready to play for the Bulls' next game Tuesday at Memphis.

This is the third significant injury of the season for Rose, but tonight will be the first game he'll miss.

Rose doubtful tonight vs. Miami

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MIAMI -- The Bulls haven't released any definitive word yet on the results of the MRI on Derrick Rose's left wrist, but it appears the Bulls point guard won't play tonight against the Miami Heat.

The Bulls are hopeful the sprained left wrist he suffered Thursday night on a fall after being fouled by Orlando's Dwight Howard won't keep Rose sidelined for long.

The game was broadcast on TNT and analyst Charles Barkley had this to say at halftime in connection with Rose's fall:

"I've got to teach these guys how to fall. I tell guys your body is a lot stronger than he bones in your hands and your fingers and your wrist. Any time you're going to fall, get your hands in the air; don't try to catch yourself."

Howard, Van Gundy put responsibility for fall on Rose

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Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard wasn't exactly remorseful after knocking out Bulls point guard Derrick Rose again with a hard foul.

After knocking Rose to the court and out of the game for the second time in about a month - Rose suffered a bruised right hip after a fall on Feb. 10 -- Howard was asked about Thursday's hit in the Magic's 111-82 victory.

"He went up and he fell," he said. "That's all I remember."

In fact, Howard even sort of blamed Rose for both falls.

"As a big man you never try to hurt anybody coming down the lane," Howard said. "Me and Derrick are cool. I think he's a great player, a great person. You never want to see him get hurt.

I talked to him during the All-Star break and I told him, 'If you come down the lane, always come on two feet. That way you'll be on balance. If you come off one, all it takes is somebody's body to hit you the wrong way and you're gonna fall."

What Howard meant is that when Rose goes up for the shot he should jump off both feet instead of one.

"I hope that he gets better," Howard said of Rose. "I hope there's nothing seriously wrong with him. I never intended to hurt him. It happened."

Magic coach Stan Van Gundy took the defense of his center a bit farther:

"You know, the thing on that play, looking at it, I don't even think Dwight fouled him. I think Rose fouled Dwight. He pushed off.

"But regardless, Derrick goes in there with such unbelievable force that it was the same [as last month]. He's going full speed and he's hitting basically an immovable object and he lands tough. I feel really bad. I hope he's not hurt badly."

Howard flattens Rose -- again

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Amazingly, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard did it again -- this time leveling Derrick Rose with a hard foul late in the first quarter and knocking out the Bulls point guard for the rest of the game Thursday night with a sprained left wrist.

In the last meeting between the two teams Feb. 10 at the United Center, Rose was knocked out of the game less than three minutes into it with a bruised right hip.

On Thursday, Rose didn't drive to the basket until late in the first quarter. The play was almost identical to the last game. Rose beat his man and drove down the right side of the lane. Howard came over to meet him and made hard contact when Rose was in the air about to release the ball.

Rose fell hard to the court -- again -- as a foul was called with 55.3 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Rose stayed down for a while holding his left wrist and flexing his left hand.

He shot the free throws and played the rest of the quarter, but was taken to the locker room between quarters to have his wrist x-rayed. The Bulls announced midway through the second quarter that Rose wouldn't return.

Deng out, Gibson to play

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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Luol Deng (strained right calf) is definitely out for tonight's game against the Orlando Magic, but rookie Taj Gibson will give it a go despite battling plantar fasciitis.

"It's still sore," Gibson said following the Bulls' shootaround at Amway Arena. "I'm gonna fight through it. I'll get treatment and keep playing. Whatever minutes I'm can give, I'm gonna give."

Rookie James Johnson will start in place of Deng at small forward.

The Bulls will be playing without two starters (Deng and center Joakim Noah), but Johnson believes the remaining players still can get some things accomplished.

"We've got Derrick Rose on the team and he's a great leader and he makes all of us compete harder," Johnson said. "We're a team and we want to help each other win so there's no excuse for who's hurt or what kind of a stretch we've got. We've got an All-Star on the team."

Deng is on the trip and hasn't been officially ruled out of Friday's game in Miami. But the chances of him playing are slim. Because the Bulls don't play again until Tuesday, it makes sense to hold him out so he will get an extra four days of rest.

Deng out 'a while,' Gibson may sit vs. Magic

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Just when it seemed the Bulls injury woes couldn't get any worse, guess what? It got worse.

The Bulls announced Wednesday that forward Luol Deng (strained right calf) will be out "a while" and figures to miss at least two games after an MRI this morning confirmed the injury.

"He has a little calf issue, a little strain," coach Vinny Del Negro said of Deng. "We'll see how he feels, but I think he's gonna be out for a while. I don't know how long."

Also, rookie Taj Gibson is questionable for Thursday's game against the Orlando Magic with plantar fasciitis in both feet. Gibson has been playing with the injury since training camp, but was noticeably hampered in Tuesday's loss against the Utah Jazz. He was scoreless with one rebound before fouling out in 12 minutes.

"I don't know yet," Del Negro said when asked if Gibson would play against the Magic. "His plantar fasciitis was really acting up and he was sore and I sat him today.

"We really have to find some bodies. Maybe we'll just play small tomorrow. Real small. I don't know yet. But it's hard to do that when you have that guy in the middle down in Orlando."

Rookie James Johnson will start in place of Deng on Thursday. If Gibson can't play, Hakim Warrick likely would move into the lineup.

Center Brad Miller sat out Wednesday's practice with a left thumb injury, but is expected to play against the Magic.

Deng will start tonight vs. Jazz

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Forward Luol Deng participated in the Bulls' morning shootaround and is back in the starting lineup for tonight's game against the Utah Jazz at the United Center.

Deng was sent home from Monday's practice with flu-like symptoms. The question now is what his energy level will be in the game.

"We'll see," coach Vinny Del Negro said. "We'll just monitor that throughout the game. If he's feeling well, he'll stay out there. If he's a little sluggish or needs a break, he'll get it."

Deng out now with flu

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As if the Bulls didn't have enough issues at the moment, now this:

Luol Deng missed Monday's practice and was sent home with flu-like symptoms. No word yet on if he's expected to play tomorrow when the Bulls host the Utah Jazz at the United Center.

"I'm not exactly sure what he has," coach Vinny Del Negro said. "He's not feeling real well. It's the flu or something like that. He'll get re-evaluated in the morning."

Noah unsure of when he'll return

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The Bulls announced earlier in the week that center Joakim Noah would be sidelined at least three weeks to allow the plantar fasciitis of the left foot to ease up. But following the Bulls' loss against Memphis on Thursday, Noah said he isn't putting a timetable on his return.

"I'm not trying to put a date on it or anything," he said. "I'm just trying to get ready as fast as I can. [Thursday night] was definitely a tough loss. Games like this are games that we really need to win, especially at this time of year. But we can't get discouraged. We got a lot of tough games coming up so we just got to get ready. I'm just trying to do the things I can control and get back there as soon as I can -- hopefully sooner than later."

Noah's been on the bench cheering his teammates on, but doesn't like that role.

"It's the worst, man," he said. "I want to be out there and I want to play. At the same time if it's to play for five minutes and not be able to play the rest of the game, there's no [point]. It doesn't make sense. It's just tough right now, a tough loss. Obviously, of course I want to be out there. It's hard not to be. But I got to do what I got to do."

Deng, Rose, Miller expected to play tonight

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Luol Deng, Derrick Rose and Brad Miller all participated in the Bulls' shootaround this morning and are expected to play tonight against Memphis Grizzlies.

Bulls shut Noah down for three weeks

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The Bulls announced today that center Joakim Noah -- who has missed a total of 10 games so far with plantar fasciitis of the left foot -- will be shut down for at least the next three weeks.

"We'll sit him down for a few weeks and see how he feels," coach Vinny Del Negro said of Noah. "That's what [the medical staff is] saying, that's the plan right now. That's where it's at, three weeks and we'll go from there.

"He has to come back and fight through the pain. We'll give a few weeks and, hopefully, he reacts better to that. That's the plan right now."

Noah also was shut down for about three weeks around the All-Star break last month and then returned to play in four games. He played 27 minutes in his final appearance last Friday against the Portland Trail Blazers and the pain (which never really went away completely) intensified again, forcing him to the sidelines.

Noah is averaging 10.7 points and 11.4 rebounds for the season, but his rebounding average was above 12 for much of the season before the injury surfaced and cut into his playing time and production.

The Bulls have brought back forward/center Chris Richard to help fill some of the void, but replacing Noah's production will have to be a team effort.

"I don't know if you do replace him," Del Negro said. "He's the second-leading rebounder in the whole NBA. He brings a lot of energy, great spirit to the game for us, gets us [extra] possessions and gets us out on the break. His offense has been developing all year and his development overall has been big.

"It's a big loss, but other guys have to step up. We just have to try to manage it. The biggest concern is rebounding the basketball. When we play bigger frontlines, not having his length back there is an issue. Other guys have to step up and play well and other guys have to pick their performance up until he comes back."

The Bulls have their fingers crossed that the rest will work this time and ease the pain enough to allow Noah to be effective.

Bulls will sign Richard, waive Hunter

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With Joakim Noah out indefinitely and Brad Miller playing too many minutes, the Bulls will sign forward/center Chris Richard to add to the frontcourt depth.

Richard played in five games with the Bulls earlier this season, but was waived on Feb. 18 after the Bulls traded two players for four players at the trading deadline. But with all the uncertainty upfront and the Bulls being pounded on the boards by the Atlanta Hawks on Monday, the Bulls had to make room for Richard.

"We need our guys to get healthy," coach Vinny Del Negro said. "One guy is not gonna control the glass. It's gonna help. I thought Chris did a good job when he was here, he knows what we're doing, he's a good kid, so we'll get him back here [Wednesday]."

To make room for Richard, the Bulls will waive veteran guard Lindsey Hunter, who was the oldest player in the NBA at 39. Hunter, though, isn't going anywhere. He will remain in the organization in a role to be determined.

"Not to an assistant coach, but we'll keep Lindsey around in some capacity," Del Negro said. "We'll just work it from there."

Despite being with the team all season, Hunter had only played a total of 122 minutes in 13 games.

The Bulls hit the practice court for a light workout Tuesday, but four players -- Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Derrick Rose and Brad Miller -- didn't participate.

Noah, obviously, is still bothered by the plantar fasciitis of the left foot. Deng, who missed Monday's game, has a swollen left knee. Rose, who banged knees with Atlanta's Mike Bibby on Monday, has a sore right knee. Miller's issue is a sore left knee and general old age.

Hinrich doesn't have an injury, but coach Vinny Del Negro just wanted to give him some rest.

Rose hurt in first quarter vs. Hawks

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Derrick Rose went down with an apparent right knee injury less than five minutes into tonight's game with the Atlanta Hawks, and the chances of him returning didn't look good when he limped off the court and into the locker room.

But Rose returned to the bench late in the first quarter and re-entered the game with 7:27 left in the second quarter. Rose scored his first basket following the injury about a minute later on a goaltending call against Atlanta's Josh Smith.

On the play when he went down, Bulls center Brad Miller pulled in a defensive rebound and threw an outlet pass for Rose. Mike Bibby came up to try and knock away the pass. Bibby did knock the ball away, but also appeared to make contact with Rose's right knee. Rose fell to the court and immediately grabbed his right knee.

Deng out vs. Hawks tonight

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After testing his swollen left knee, forward Luol Deng was scratched from the Bulls' starting lineup and won't play tonight against the Atlanta Hawks at the United Center.

Rookie James Johnson will get his first NBA start in Deng's place. The Bulls already were playing without center Joakim Noah, meaning they'll be without two starters.

Following the Hawks game, the Bulls are off until Thursday and the hope is Deng will be ready to go by then.

Deng a game-time decision vs. Hawks

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Forward Luol Deng sat out the Bulls' shootaround this morning because of a swollen left knee. Whether he is able to play tonight against the Atlanta Hawks will be determined after he warms up in the pregame.

Deng has been playing with the injury for more than a week and it has been getting worse. He is is the Bulls' second-leading scorer with an average of 18.2 points.

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