Luol Deng, Joakim Noah sit out

CHICAGO -- Luol Deng (Achilles), Joakim Noah (bruise) and Jimmy Butler (turf toe) didn't play for the Chicago Bulls in Tuesday night's 78-74 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Deng, who initially injured his Achilles against the Detroit Pistons on Nov. 27, sat out Saturday's home loss to the Pistons and hasn't been able to do much in practice.

"It's still tight," coach Tom Thibodeau said of Deng's injury. "It's better, a lot better; both guys are a lot better. They're close but not quite there yet ... we'll see where it is [Wednesday]."

Noah told ESPNChicago.com before the game that he would not play because of a knee contusion. Bulls public relations said officially that his injury is a right thigh bruise. The revelation came as a surprise given that Thibodeau was asked at Tuesday's shootaround whether or not anyone else was dealing with an injury besides Deng, Butler or Mike James (who is available Tuesday night despite missing last week due to a knee injury) and he said, "No."

Thibodeau said Noah's initial injury occurred "three or four games" ago and that his All-Star center has been playing through it.

Noah went through shootaround Tuesday morning but was unable to play.

"It was improving but he did something today," Thibodeau said. "He said he moved a certain way and something happened."

Noah is expected to travel with the Bulls in advance of Wednesday night's game against the New York Knicks.

The Bulls' starters Tuesday against the Bucks were Mike Dunleavy, Carlos Boozer, Nazr Mohammed, Tony Snell and Kirk Hinrich.

Butler, who suffered his injury in a Nov. 18 game against the Charlotte Bobcats, said he was about "80 [percent]" and was able to run and jump and just started changing directions again on the court.

However, he did not sound optimistic regarding his chances for Wednesday's game.

"I don't know," Butler said. "I feel good, though. I think I still have a little bit of a ways to go. But we're definitely moving in the right direction. I'm moving a lot better, jumping off of it better, so we'll just see every day that I wake up how I'm feeling."

Butler acknowledged that it has been tough for him to sit out and rehab the toe injury.

"Terrible," Butler said. "I hate sitting out. I hate missing games. I always want to play. I always want to be out there, going through everything with my guys, my teammates. But they're just constantly telling me to take my time, make sure I'm back at full strength so you don't re-aggravate it or make it worse."

Butler missed a chunk of training camp because of knee soreness and looked like he was just getting his timing back before the toe injury. Thibodeau has said Butler will return to the starting lineup at some point, but it appears as if Butler may come off the bench after he returns. Snell, a rookie, has played well in place of Butler in the starting lineup.

"I want to see where he is conditioning-wise," Thibodeau said of Butler. "He's moving a lot better, so that's a good sign, but we'll see how it unfolds. Whatever he can give us will be a big plus. He adds a lot to our team. It may not be his normal minutes initially, but he'll get there."