WASHINGTON -- Vinny Del Negro said before Friday night's game that he didn't think Luol Deng would play that many minutes since he had missed almost a month because of a calf strain. With the game on the line though, Del Negro left Deng in the game and the decision paid dividends as the veteran forward drained a couple shots, including a big three-pointer with just under five minutes to play which helped ensure a Chicago Bulls' 95-87 victory over the Washington Wizards.
Deng finished with 14 points and played almost 28 minutes.
Deng was surprised by the high minute total.
"I told Coach ... he told me just let him know throughout the game how I was feeling. If it's getting tight or anything. But, the longer I was out there, I actually felt better," Deng said.
Deng seemed a little hesitant to say for sure whether or night he will play Saturday night against the Charlotte Bobcats.
"We'll see," he said. "I really don't know how it's going to respond. The other day from practice it had tightened up a little bit, so, I'm sure it will be a little bit tight. But, it's feeling good right now."
More injuries: The Bulls just can't escape the injury bug which has bitten them all season. Bulls point guard Derrick Rose had a couple more hard falls. Same goes for Taj Gibson. Kirk Hinrich played through some pain after spraining his ankle on Tuesday night against the Phoenix Suns. Joakim Noah and James Johnson are still battling foot injuries as well. Aside from Deng [who still may play] everybody else is expected to play on Saturday. "I'm feeling good," Rose said. "I know [Saturday] I'm going to be kind of sore. But I'll come in and get treatment early. Get some rest, first of all. And get ready for [Saturday]."
Tyrus returns: For the first time since he was traded away, Tyrus Thomaswill be back in Chicago on Saturday night as a member of te Bobcats. It's a matchup that some Bulls are definitely looking forward to. "I'm looking forward to seeing him," Gibson said. "Nobody really wanted him to leave the team, but I'm just looking forward to seeing him. I know he's doing well. I'm just worried about our end, just trying to get another win."
Noah and Rose connect: Noah doesn't look like a point guard, but he played one in Washington, D.C. on Friday night. Midway through the fourth quarter, he took the ball down the floor and passed it to Rose for an alley-oop that is sure to make the SportsCenter Top 10. So what was going through Rose's mind at the time? "No bounce pass," he said with a laugh. "At least throw it up so I can attempt to get it. But, he threw a good pass. I was surprised. That was a nice pass."
Did Rose think Noah had that kind of point guard prowess?
"Yeah," he said. "Jo was short when he was growing up, so he learned how to dribble. He knows how to dribble a little bit. Passing, I didn't know he was like that. But he threw a good pass."
Rose a fan of Livingston's: After missing several seasons because of various injuries, former Illinois high school star Shaun Livingston is back with the Wizards, and Rose is one of many people that is glad that he has returned. "Shaun, he's a good player. One of the players I looked up to in Illinois," Rose said. "He won Mr. Basketball, I think, two years in a row. Won state two years in a row. First player ever to do that. He's like a legend in Illinois. For me to be playing against him, he's a veteran player, means a lot."