Joakim Noah returns to Bulls lineup

Updated: December 12, 2013, 1:59 AM ET
By Nick Friedell | ESPNChicago.com

NEW YORK CITY -- Luol Deng missed his third straight game because of an Achilles injury in Wednesday night's 83-78 loss to the New York Knicks. Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler missed his 11th consecutive game because of turf toe.

The Bulls did get some good news on the injury front, though, as center Joakim Noah started the game after missing Tuesday night's contest against the Milwaukee Bucks because of a knee contusion.

Noah had 12 points and 11 rebounds in 37 minutes as the Bulls erased a 23-point deficit before falling.

Noah said after the loss that he had his knee drained Tuesday.

"My knee feels all right," he said. "I got it drained [Tuesday]. I got in the quad, and my knee for some reason just swelled up real bad. So I got it drained and I feel better."

The All-Star center also shed some light as to when the initial injury took place.

"[The injury] happened a week ago," Noah said. "And I was playing on it, playing on it and my knee was just getting bigger. I couldn't ... the swelling was just accumulating. It just happens."

As for Deng, he was hopeful to be back on the floor Wednesday night but now isn't sure when he will return.

"I don't know," he said. "I wanted to play today. I kind of set this game as a target to play and I just didn't feel well warming up. We're just really cautious right now [of] coming back and then having a setback. So I'm going to try and practice [Thursday], or try to do more, see how much I can do, and hopefully I'll be back on the court soon."

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau had said Deng and Noah would warm up Wednesday before he made a final decision. Deng warmed up early but was not able to play. Noah, who spent his teenage years in the New York City area, ran out with the rest of his teammates to start the game.

"I think he wants to play all the time," Thibodeau said of Noah before the game. "The swelling's gone down in his knee, or his thigh area. He feels better, so he's going to give it a shot."

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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