After a two-week layoff due to a torn ligament in his left wrist, Luol Deng returned to the Bulls lineup Saturday night in Milwaukee.
Cue the sighs of relief.
Deng logged a game-high 41 minutes — of course — and finished with 21 points and 9 rebounds in a 113-90 win over the Bucks.
It’s a certainty that Deng was hurting, but he didn’t play like it. And according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Lu practiced yesterday without any obvious problems.
Said Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau: “He said he felt fine. He was good in practice. We’re encouraged by that.”
Thibs is answering questions because Deng is not. Luol said he doesn’t want to keep talking about the injury. And, really, what’s the point? It hurts. He can play through it. And it probably won’t get better until after the season when he has time for it to fully heal (possibly after surgery).
What more is there to say?
It’s funny. Prior to last season, many Bulls fans questioned Deng’s worth and (especially) his toughness. Often times, he was unfairly targeted for criticism due to his large contract, the team’s lack of playoff success, and a few unfortunate injuries that forced him to miss long stretches of games in consecutive seasons.
But with the minutes he logs, the productivity, and the pain he plays through, I think that “overrated and soft” tag has been dispelled about as thoroughly as it could be.
As for the wrist, it remains to see how that will affect him going forward.
On the subject of injuries to key players, Derrick Rose is a little banged up.
In addition to his ongoing turf toe injury, Rose’s back has been acting up. During the Bucks game, Rose could be seen laying on his back getting stretched out by one of the team trainers.
Said Rose: “My back tends to get tight a little bit. That’s why my shots were kind of flat. But I know after tonight and the day off [Sunday], I’ll get my back worked on and that should be out the way quick. It just got tight on me and that can easily go away.”
Despite the tightness, Rose participated in most of Sunday’s practice.
Said Thibs: “He has a little bit of stiffness. He said he will be fine.”
We’ll see how fine Rose is tonight in New Jersey.