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Monday, January 23, 2012
Bulls face possibility of missing Deng

By Nick Friedell

CHICAGO -- Nobody is quite sure if and when Luol Deng will return to the Chicago Bulls lineup. It could be a couple of days, or, if he has to have surgery on his injured left wrist, it could be a couple of months. Deng told Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau that he would be back in the near future, but his teammates sound ready to face playing without their star forward for a bit.

"Lu does everything for us," Bulls center Joakim Noah said. "He's definitely going to be missed. But we got to do our best without him and hopefully he comes back OK."

Bulls point guard Derrick Rose pointed to the almost 16 points a game Deng puts up on a nightly basis.

"Definitely scoring," Rose said. "Someone who plays hard. His defense has been great this year. Contesting all the guys that he's sticking. Contesting shots, rebounding the ball. He's been huge on the rebounding end."

While there is definitely nobody feeling sorry for himself in the Bulls' locker room, each player understands he’s going to have to do a little bit more without Deng.

"Guys had to step up tonight without him," Bulls guard Rip Hamilton said. "It's a huge loss for us. We just knew that we've got to come together and I thought Ronnie [Brewer] did a great job starting the game out and I thought he did an excellent job."

Hamilton earns milestone: With a nice-looking layup in the first quarter, Hamilton scored, and then surpassed, the 15,000 point barrier for his career.

"It's a great feeling," he said. "I didn't know it until they said it today. I think I owe it to all my great teammates that I've played with my whole career. All the bigs setting screens and things like that. I think I need to take them all out to eat. It's a great accomplishment, man."

The last word: Noah, on if he was surprised he came back in at the end of the game with the Bulls having such a big lead:

"You never know with Thibs."