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News » Deng, Bulls off to a fast start


Deng, Bulls off to a fast start


Deng, Bulls off to a fast start The Bulls are on the verge of a remarkable breakthrough. If they can beat Denver tonight at the United Center, they will move to three games over .500 in November for the first time since 1997-98.

Fast starts have not been a Bulls specialty since the championship era ended. This is just the third time in the last 12 years they?ve even been two games over .500 in the opening month of the season.

To accomplish this milestone, the Bulls need Luol Deng to complete a challenging personal trifecta. Going back to Thursday, Deng matched up against Cleveland?s LeBron James, then Charlotte?s Gerald Wallace, the NBA?s leading rebounder.

Tonight, he will draw Denver?s Carmelo Anthony, the league?s No. 2 scorer at 31.4 points per game.

"My job is to make it difficult on him and just do whatever we?ve got to do to get the win," Deng said after Monday?s practice and autograph assembly line at the Berto Center. "I think the main thing is as a team we?ve done a good job of guarding those guys."

Against the Bobcats, Deng played all but 48 seconds. Hedidn?t shoot well early, then recovered to finish with 14 points,11 rebounds and 2 steals, while limiting Wallace to 9 boards, 4 below his season average.

As of Monday morning,

Deng ranked 15th in the league at 10.0 rebounds per game. He and Wallace are the only small forwards among the league?s top 25 rebounders.

"I think it?s just whatever it takes to win, really," Deng said. "We wanted to do a good job of boxing (Wallace) out."

Deng certainly won?t be expected to play 47 minutes every night. Coach Vinny Del Negro explained that he wanted to keep Deng matched up against Wallace, who played 45 minutes against the Bulls .

"We?ve got to spread the minutes and spread the wealth a little bit, but we also need to find ways to win the game," Del Negro said. "It?s kind of a double-edged sword. That?s why these injuries really hurt."

With power forward Tyrus Thomas sidelined for a month with a broken left arm, Deng slid over to power forward for much of Saturday?s game, while John Salmons played small forward and Kirk Hinrich was the two guard.

Del Negro tried adding rookie forward James Johnson to the rotation, but he didn?t produce a positive stat during a five-minute run in the first half and didn?t play after halftime.

"I thought on the film, he played all right," Del Negro said of Johnson. "I probably could have played him a little more. We?re going to need James. I thought he practiced pretty well today. He?s just got to get comfortable out there at both (forward) positions."

The extended minutes against Charlotte did serve as further proof Deng has recovered well from the stress fracture in his right shin that kept him out of the final 29 games of last season. He?s the Bulls ? top scorer at 16.7 points though six games.

Deng walked gingerly toward the locker room Monday but insisted that was simply from sitting and signing charity items for so long after practice.

"I just feel like every game my body has been feeling better; I feel like my rhythm is getting better," he said. "I feel like there?s going to be a time in the season when those shots are going to fall every time."


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Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 12, 2009

 

 
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