Deng laughing off the pain

March, 15, 2012
3/15/12
1:27
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Luol Deng laughs when the subject of his injured wrist comes up ... probably because it's easier than crying and being miserable about it.

[+] EnlargeLuol Deng
Dennis Wierzbicki/US PresswireLuol Deng had 11 points and five rebounds in Wednesday's win.

After missing the previous two games to deal with the pain, Deng was back on the floor Wednesday night, gutting out 37 minutes in the Bulls 106-102 win. Deng fell on the wrist late in the second quarter and was in obvious pain, but he continued playing on.

"I got to get back," he said, acknowledging that things are the same because of the injury. "The wrist has been like that since I hurt it. If you see my game, I'm adjusting it a little bit. I just got to find ways to keep on improving and try to do other things that I'm not capable of doing now."

Deng decided to play, in part, to give his team a little boost against the Heat.

"I just felt like it was kind of a boost coming back, for the guys to see," he said. "Especially when I said I was going to play, then C.J. made the decision he was going to play, I think it kind of lifted us up a little bit."

Deng said he does not plan on sitting out any time soon, but he also knows that he can't predict the future as far as the pain goes.

"I'm going to play," he said. "I've just got to be smart about it, but I should be fine."

James' history: Having played for the Heat and for Tom Thibodeau earlier in his career in Houston, veteran guard Mike James has a unique perspective on both head coaches. He always figured Thibodeau would get his chance.

"Definitely," he said after Wednesday morning's shootaround. "He was a hard worker. He was always one of the first in the gym and he's just a genius and he soaks up a lot, he has a lot of wisdom and knowledge of this basketball game. It's funny how they always say he's in the gym all the time, it's like he's married to this game; this is his love. When someone is that passionate about something you have to respect their knowledge and wisdom as a coach."

Same goes for Spoelstra.

"That was my guy also," James said. "It was the same thing with Coach Thibs. I'd call Erik on days off, 'Let's go in the gym. Let's go work.' He was a video guy at the time when I was there, but he was always hungry, eager, and he was always one of the first ones in the gym and one of the last ones to leave. Always ready to talk about basketball; whatever basketball knowledge there was to share, he was willing to share it."

Count James in the group that wasn't surprised when his former coach, Pat Riley, pulled up the free agent trifecta last summer, landing LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

"Coach has a way with words," James said. "Even when I played there, our pregame speeches, as soon as he finished, your eyes get watery, your adrenaline is extremely high. You're ready to run through a wall just by his words. That's why he was a great motivator. He's a great motivator. I'm pretty sure he was able to say words to them just to get them excited in that moment, and they just got caught up in the moment. Coach Riley is good for that right there."


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
21.6 3.4 1.5 40.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 11.5
AssistsD. Rose 5.0
StealsJ. Butler 1.5
BlocksP. Gasol 2.0