Chicago Sun-Times

Luol Deng passes first test in return from wrist injury

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Luol Deng was Luol Deng.

Playing his first game since suffering a torn ligament in his left wrist two weeks and eight games ago, Deng was his typical model of consistency in the Bulls' 113-90 blowout of the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night at the Bradley Center.

Deng started and scored 21 points on 9-of-19 shooting with nine rebounds, three turnovers, one steal and one blocked shot in 41 minutes. No other Bull played more than 35 minutes.

''It feels fine. It feels great,'' said Deng, who was peppered with questions about his wrist after the game. ''Right now it's fine. If anything, I'll know [Sunday].''

Deng's return seem to inspire his teammates as the Bulls took an early lead behind Derrick Rose and never let up. Deng scored 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting, with four rebounds and one turnover in the first half as the Bulls shot 61 percent from the field and had 19 assists on their 28 field goals to take a 67-43 lead.

''Lu, he's Lu,'' Rose said. ''He plays with a lot of energy when he steps on the court. He's consistent. He works hard, playing defense, rebounding. He makes the game easy. When you play wit guys like [Deng and Richard Hamilton], they've got your back no matter what. He's a veteran. He makes everybody comfortable out there.''

Deng said he was hit on the wrist a couple of times during the game, but wasn't bothered by the contact. Despite the interest in his wrist, he doesn't want to make it a constant concern of his.

''I'm going going to continue everything the same,'' he said. ''I'm just going to forget about it. I'm playing. I don't need to keep talking about it. As long as I'm playing, it's fine.''

Deng missed seven games since suffering the injury two weeks ago against Charlotte.

''I was told 4-6 weeks,'' Deng said. ''I knew when I had the injury the way it felt, I could recover quickly. When we were in New York, I was going to play. But it got sore. I did some stuff with Scal [teammate Brian Salabrine] in Philly. We did a lot of 3-on-3 and 1-on-1 and it got sore the next day.''

Deng scored on a drive in the first two minutes, but said it took awhile for him to get in the flow.

''I felt a little hesitant,'' Deng said. ''I was a little worried about getting bumped and falling in the beginning of the game and I kind of missed those layups. But I took the hit in the fourth quarter, so just keep that in mind that it's fine.''

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau doesn't like to baby injuries. So once Deng was cleared to play, he treated him as if he were 100 percent.

''You don't know from a conditioning standpoint if he's going to have any problems with his wrist,'' Thibodeau said. ''But he said he felt great. Once he showed that he could handle it, we just got back to the normal rotation.''

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on February 4, 2012 11:31 PM.

Rose payback, Deng return spark Bulls rout of Bucks was the previous entry in this blog.

Rose toasts Bulls fans who took over Bradley Center is the next entry in this blog.

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