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Luol Deng says Achilles still ailing

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng did not play in Thursday night's loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder and doesn't expect to return until Christmas Day at the earliest because of ongoing problems with an Achilles injury.

Deng, who has missed four games over the past couple of weeks, says the injury has bothered him more of late.

"At shootaround [Wednesday in Houston], I wasn't sure if I was going to go," he said. "I played, and it's just something I've got to [address]. I can't keep trying to ignore it.

"Pretty much what I try to do is play and treat it and see if I could get rid of it, but it doesn't seem like I could do that. I had a lot of swelling today, and we just made the decision that I got to try and put it behind me and stop playing instead of being in and out."

Deng said he will wear a walking boot to try to stabilize the injury.

"You just never know how your body reacts to it," he said. "I want to try and be back as soon as possible but I want to be smart about it. I want to shoot for Christmas Day. If I can't [be back], then the game after that. But definitely, the next five days or so, really give it the attention that it deserves and try to be healthy."

Deng said the initial injury occurred in a Nov. 27 win over the Detroit Pistons. The two-time All-Star does not feel like it has gotten much better.

"When it first happened, it wasn't something that came out of nowhere," Deng said. "It actually happened in a game, and I thought I twisted my ankle. Someone stepped on my Achilles, and it flared up. So I played a few games with it, and just to make sure we did an MRI, and it showed that there was no tear or anything.

"So the next thing was, how can I put it behind me and play at the same time when I couldn't do that? But the last two games I've been favoring it a little bit and I could see that on the tape -- especially on my defense, I'm not moving the way I want to move. [After] the first game I came back, I was limping the next day. ... It's just an injury that needs rest."

Deng's absence is compounded by the fact the Bulls are without former league MVP Derrick Rose (season-ending knee surgery), Kirk Hinrich (back stiffness) and Jimmy Butler, who left Chesapeake Energy Arena on crutches Thursday night after turning his right ankle in the first half. Butler also is dealing with a turf toe injury that put him out for almost a month.

"It's tough," Deng said of all the injuries. "It's just one of those seasons. I think we just got to hang in there. Just got to keep playing hard and just hang in there. We know what we're capable of when everybody's healthy.

"Right now it seems like nothing is going our way. But it's a long season, and a lot of things right now ain't the way we want them to be. We got to just turn it around and keep going."