Bulls

Deng another game-time decision

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Deng another game-time decision

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau doesnt have any plans to rush back Luol Deng from a nagging hamstring injury, even if it means the All-Star reserve misses his own bobblehead night.
I didnt realize that, Thibodeau said laughing when told of Dengs bobblehead. Yeah, thats why were bringing him back.
Thibodeau did, however, seem more optimistic about Dengs chances to play tonight at home against the Bobcats, calling him a true game-time decision. Deng, who was named an All-Star last Thursday, has missed the last five games and the Bulls have taken a cautious approach to his return.
Thibodeau said Deng participated a little bit more in this mornings team shoot-around that the Berto Center, and that hes gotten better every day since aggravating the injury Jan. 18 in Boston.
Swingman Jimmy Butler may have hinted at a potential return tonight for Deng.
I feel great. Glad to have Luol back. Were just gonna keep rolling, same role coming off the bench and just try to keep winning games, he said. I hope he does (play) because hes a big part of our team and we want him out there.
When Deng does make his eventual return to the lineup, Butler knows it will relegate him back to the bench. But the second-year forward said he will continue to have an effect on games, and that his recent stretch in the starting lineup has helped his confidence moving forward.
I feel like when an opportunity presents itself you have to take it, Butler said. (Starting) gave me a lot more confidence in knowing what I can do and having my teammates believe in me more on both ends of the floor. So I feel like it was a definite confidence boost.
Butler has put together the best stretch of his career in the last 10 days, averaging 14.2 points 8.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists in more than 45 minutes the last five contests. The Bulls are 3-2 in that span, and Butlers emergence as a capable scorer and stout defender has helped the Bulls replace the league leader in minutes per game.
Like Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli before him Robinson has started five games in place of Kirk Hinrich; Belinelli started 12 games in Rip Hamiltons absence the Chicago reserves are proving to Thibodeau they can step up when their name is called.
We always do whats best for the team. You guys make it sound like its a new revelation. Jimmys played well and its what we expect of our bench, Thibodeau said, and when you look at it deeper, when Marco stepped in he did a great job. So we feel very good about our bench and when someone is out we expect that next person to step up.

Bring your own stuffing: Jazz swat Bulls on Thanksgiving Eve

Bring your own stuffing: Jazz swat Bulls on Thanksgiving Eve

On the second (turkey) leg of a back-to-back, the Bulls didn't bring much energy in a 110-80 loss to the Utah Jazz. 

Instead of diving into the nitty-gritty of the uninspiring effort, though, we decided to just serve you up a Thanksgiving meal of highlights. Here are the top blocks from Wednesday's game: 

5. Derrick Favors is no Rudy Gobert -- that we know -- but imitation is the highest form of flattery. 

4. Are Bobby Portis chase down blocks the new LeBron James chase down blocks? Let's not get carried away... yet. We'll chalk it up to just a real nice hustle play by Bobby. 

3 and 2. Speaking of hustle plays... Jonas Jerebko isn't exactly known as a dominant defender. He sure made it hard for the Bulls on what should of been an easy fast-break bucket in the third quarter, though. First, he silenced Kris Dunn's reverse. Then, he met Lauri Markkanen at the rim and sent the rookie packing. The Baby Bulls 2.0 can blame it on fatigue, but they just handed Jerebko a highlight tape for years to come.   

1. In fairness, Jerian Grant had to get up a shot as the quarter was coming to a close. It is as vicious as it looks, though.  

Just as we all predicted, two rookies stole the show in L.A.

Just as we all predicted, two rookies stole the show in L.A.

There's not often hype surrounding a game between two of the NBA's worst teams, but Tuesday's Bulls-Lakers matchup was intriguing to many because it offered a chance to see a pair of top rookies compete. 

Oh, but you didn't think we meant Lonzo Ball and Lauri Markkanen, did you?

Nah, it was two different, less-touted first-year players that ended up stealing the spotlight at the Staples Center. 

Kyle Kuzma and Antonio Blakeney may not be household names, but they sure played like they were in the Bulls' 103-94 loss. 

Kuzma, the Lakers rook drafted 27th overall, has been a spark for Luke Walton's squad all season long. Boasting a terrific scoring arsenal, the Utah product carried the load for the Lakers' offense in the first half, dropping 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting. He finished the game as L.A.'s leading scorer with 22 in 40 minutes. But if you still need a more in-depth scouting report on Kuzma, just let Lonzo break it down:  

More importantly for Bulls fans, though, was the play of their undrafted guard who's signed to a two-way deal. 

Blakeney, the unofficial Summer League MVP, came off the bench on Tuesday and immediately left his mark on the game. The 21-year-old out of LSU posted 15 in the first half, finishing through contact as well as connecting on outside jumpers. 

Blakeney's shooting isn't reliable quite yet, but his energy has clearly influenced Hoiberg's rotation. The guard went from playing one NBA minute in the Bulls' first 11 games to playing 75 in the last four. Given that his two-way deal allows him to only spend 45 days with the team, it'll be fascinating to see how creative Gar Forman and John Paxson will get with his contract if this type of production continues. 

In a season that's obviously going to have its share of rough moments, an offseason flyer hitting is a huge plus for the rebuild. 

As for the recognized rookies, Lonzo's shooting woes persisted and Markkanen had maybe his worst offensive performance of his young Bulls career. Combined, they finished 7-for-30 with 21 points. Not ideal.