DEERFIELD, Ill. -- When Luol Deng's name is announced at the United Center this season, the introduction will sound a little different. That's because Deng has decided to be introduced from his home country, South Sudan, not Duke University.
It's a decision that makes the veteran forward very proud.
"I love Duke, it's nothing against Duke," Deng said after Monday's practice. "Me and Coach K are friends, everything is fine. I just felt like I didn't get to do it last year, but after we got our independence, being from South Sudan, I wanted people to recognize South Sudan. A lot of times we'll still say South Sudan and a lot of people you're in Sudan, but we're our own nation now. So (as a way) of recognition, whoever's sitting in the crowd, or listening at home on TV and hears that, they can go and Google it. South Sudan is it's own nation, so I'm proud of that."
Deng, who memorably held up a shirt with the outline of Africa at the All-Star Game last season in Orlando, admitted that the first time he heard the introduction from South Sudan was something he won't forget.
"It was great," he said. "It felt great, honestly. I've never done it my whole life, it was a great feeling."
Where to go without Derrick?: The Bulls struggled to find a go-to guy in Saturday's surprising loss to the New Orleans Hornets. Richard Hamilton, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and Kirk Hinrich combined to go just 8-for-38 from the field, leaving a longing for the days when Derrick Rose used to swoop in and save the day for the Bulls. While Tom Thibodeau doesn't seem outwardly concerned, it's clear in listening to him, and watching them try to execute late, that the Bulls are still searching for the answer.
"It's not just Derrick," Thibodeau said. "Luol (Deng) has hit a number of big shots for us, Kyle (Korver) has hit a number of big shots for us. Of course Derrick has as well, but the game dictates who's going to take the shot. So if there's a double team, someone else has to step up and take the shot. Carlos (Boozer) has made a number of big shots, Rip (Hamilton) has made a number of big shots throughout his career so we have a number of guys that can make big shots."
Deng hopes that the Bulls will be able to figure out the right game plan without Rose down the stretch.
"Find ways," Deng said. "Derrick is doing what he's got to do to come back and when he gets back we're going to be a lot better. You can say in the game (Saturday) there's guys we had in the past that would have done certain things. It's just totally a different team and we got to find our own ways of winning those games. There's a lot of ways, we just didn't get it done the last game. You could say it's a learning process, a getting to know you process ... different nights it's going to be different guys on the floor, I think the more game we play we'll get familiar with each other and guys get familiar with each other on the floor."
Magic play hard ... like Bulls: The Orlando Magic have played only two games under new coach Jacque Vaughn, but their style reminds Thibodeau of the one he's put in place in Chicago. The Magic, who come to Tuesday's game against the Bulls a surprising 2-0, play hard the way Thibodeau always preaches to his own team.
"They're an excellent team," Thibodeau said. "They're 2-0, they're leading the league in scoring right now. And if you're not ready they can burn you. (Arron) Afflalo is a terrific player, Glen Davis is playing at a high level, (Nikola) Vucevic is playing at a high level, E'Twaun Moore is a guy that a lot of people don't really know about and he's an excellent player ... the guys they have stepping in they're playing hard, they're playing together, they're playing smart, so we have to be ready."
Thibodeau believes the Magic could surprise some people this season.
"I coached Glen Davis I know how hard he plays," he said. "E'Twaun Moore I've heard a lot of good things about. (J.J.) Redick is someone I'm familiar with, he's a hard playing guy. Afflalo has got a great reputation for playing hard so they've done a good job. They're a little bit under the radar, but if you study them, they shouldn't be under the radar. They played very well in the preseason, they scored the ball very easily, so you can't let your guard down and you have to be ready from the start."
The last word: Thibodeau on why the Bulls struggled so much on Saturday against the Hornets --
"We didn't play well. From the start of the game, the end of the second quarter, the start of the third quarter, and then the fourth quarter we did not play well. We rebounded the ball very poorly in the second half, we had 30 bobbles on rebounds and catches. We had a number of missed layups so it was a compilation of things."