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Fantasy owners welcomed back Derrick Rose on Monday, but the Chicago Bulls weren't in a celebratory mood. That's because there's growing uncertainty regarding the status of Luol Deng.
While his teammates were routing the New Jersey Nets, Deng watched from the sidelines with his left wrist heavily wrapped. Deng has apparently downplayed the injury to Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. However, he's also been getting multiple doctors' opinions, leading to speculation that he could have surgery.
Deng has been very good this season and outstanding recently, averaging 17.0 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.1 3-pointers in his past eight games.
As for Rose, he had a typically productive night in his return: 22 points, eight assists, five rebounds and a couple of 3s. He did acknowledge though that his injured toe will probably bother him for the rest of the season.
• I'll get this out of the way: Ricky Rubio is much better than I thought he'd be. But Rubio critics who figured he'd struggle with his shot are getting some vindication of late. In his past five games, the heralded rookie is shooting just 23.4 percent (12-for-51), and for the season he's down to 38.6 percent from the field. Of course, in that same five-game span he's also accounted for 9.0 assists, 5.4 rebounds and a mind-blowing 3.6 steals. Just a random observation, but I think I'd much prefer Rubio in head-to-head formats. In roto, if you count turnovers (3.3 this season), he's hurting you significantly in two categories.
• Speaking of players who do a lot of good and some harm, Josh Smith (19 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, three blocks) had another stellar night. Best of all for fantasy owners, Smith actually went 4-for-5 from the stripe. Smith is an atrocious 51.8 percent from the line this season, and he's getting there enough (4.7 attempts per game) to matter. In a recent 13-game stretch, Smith made just 30 of 66 free throws (45.5 percent).
• Shawn Marion (29 points, four 3s) is headed for a huge week while Dirk Nowitzki rehabs his knee, but Ian Mahinmi (17 points, nine boards) should also continue to thrive in Dirk's absence. The Frenchman played 29 minutes off the bench against the Phoenix Suns, which was only the second time this season he's seen more than 24 minutes. Mahinmi is available in virtually all ESPN.com leagues.
• While I'm on that Mavs-Suns tilt, Marcin Gortat (19 points, 17 rebounds) has been everything fantasy owners could have hoped for. A broken thumb slowed him for the first week or so, but in his past 11 games Gortat is averaging 17.4 points, 10.7 boards, 1.7 blocks and shooting 61.8 percent from the field.
• Last week it appeared that Carl Landry (18 points, eight rebounds) was headed out of the New Orleans Hornets rotation. But apparently the Hornets have since concluded that, on a team with Emeka Okafor, Chris Kaman (six points, four boards, two blocks) is redundant. The ex-Clipper played just 14 minutes against the San Antonio Spurs, this after seeing only seven minutes against the Dallas Mavericks on Jan. 21.
• Spencer Hawes (Achilles) missed his fourth straight game on Monday. The Philadelphia 76ers host the New Jersey Nets on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics were without both Rajon Rondo (wrist) and Ray Allen (ankle), though it hardly mattered against an Orlando Magic team that shot 24.6 percent on the night and scored 20 points in the second half. The C's are off until Thursday when they have a rematch with the Magic.
Naturally, more injury updates
• There's hope that Andrea Bargnani (calf) will return Tuesday against the Suns. Il Mago has missed the past six games, all losses for the Toronto Raptors.
• I couldn't find much news about Dwyane Wade (ankle), who's missed the past four games. D-Wade received treatment on Monday, while the rest of the Miami Heat had the day off. (The Heat played 16 games in the season's first 29 days.) Consider him questionable for Tuesday's home game versus the Cleveland Cavaliers.