Luol Deng sits out vs. Heat

Luol Deng (wrist) and C.J. Watson (wrist) missed Sunday's 97-93 loss against the Miami Heat while Rip Hamilton (thigh) was in the lineup for the Chicago Bulls.

While Deng was on the bench for the showdown with the Heat, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau sounded optimistic that he would be able to return soon.

"He's doing more and more. He's feeling a lot better," Thibodeau said. "I would say he's very close right now.

"The big thing is, we want to make sure he feels good about playing. He still has to take contact on it. He's doing a lot more without contact. We want him to be comfortable. He's getting closer. As long as he's moving in the right direction we're pleased with that."

Deng told Bulls.com before Friday night's game against the Milwaukee Bucks that he thought he was still at least a week away from seeing the floor. Deng tore a ligament in his wrist last Saturday night against the Charlotte Bobcats.

"It's a day-by-day thing," Deng told BullsTV. "I would say a week or more. It's hard to tell. It's definitely a bad injury, but I really believe I'll be back soon. I'm doing everything I can right now just to make sure that I'm back soon enough."

Hamilton, who suffered a groin injury during the first week of the season, has already missed 11 games between that injury and the thigh injury he suffered on Wednesday night. He finished with 11 points in 36 minutes on Sunday.

Even without Deng and Watson, Bulls center Joakim Noah was still confident before the game that his team had the talent to beat the Heat.

"We want all of our pieces healthy, obviously," Noah told reporters. "But we feel like we have enough to win. We're just going to go out there and compete as hard as possible. See what happens."

Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com.