Deng takes turn leading the charge

February, 15, 2011
2/15/11
11:23
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Luol Deng, the man who had just finished dropping 24 points on the Charlotte Bobcats, picking up the offensive slack from Derrick Rose, could have stood in front of the assembled media and talked about himself late Tuesday night.

Deng could have talked about his performance in the Chicago Bulls' 106-94 win, and about his high level of play over the past two weeks. Instead, he did what pretty much every other member of the Bulls has been doing throughout the season after a big victory -- he talked about everyone else.

"I was aggressive. I looked for my shot early," he said. "But it's the kind of team we have. Some nights you're going to get a lot of looks, some nights it's going to be someone else. But we're a deep team. And that's what's been so great about this year. The whole team, our mindset every night is just to win. Somebody's going to get it for us and it's been a different guy every time."

On Tuesday night, that guy was Deng. But, as has been the case so often lately, he had help from different places.

Rose scored 18 points and was just 5-for-14 from the field after taking several hard shots from the Bobcats, but he also managed 13 assists and created open space for his teammates most of the night. Carlos Boozer had 16 points and nine rebounds. Kyle Korver was 5-for-5 from the field for 15 points, while Taj Gibson added 11 points.

The Bulls took another step in their season-long progression on Tuesday night. Not only did they knock off a team they had already lost to twice this season, they figured out another way to win when Rose couldn't carry them on the offensive end.

"You've got a lot of guys that want to play a lot of minutes and we've got guys playing really well," Korver said. "I think the depth of this team is definitely one of our strengths and I think chemistry is too. Whoever's in the game, we're all cheering for them, supporting them."

What has to make coach Tom Thibodeau smile after a game like this is the fact that his team was mentally ready to play. So often you see teams struggle during the first home game after a long road trip, especially against a team in Charlotte that has given the Bulls fits already this year. Thibodeau had his team ready to play and they were locked in from the start.

"I said it before [and] Coach said it, ‘Don't look at the record'," Deng said. "Whatever their record is, they've got a lot of talent. In this league, any team can beat you on any night. That's a team we've struggled with and it was good to get one back tonight. It was a big game."

As usual, Thibodeau was right. If his team plays the type of complete game it did on Tuesday night, and gets the type of contributions it got up and down the roster, there's no telling just how good they can be.

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jimmy Butler
PTS AST STL MIN
22.0 3.3 1.5 40.0
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 11.4
AssistsD. Rose 4.8
StealsJ. Butler 1.5
BlocksP. Gasol 2.1