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Deng continues to show off versatility

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Deng continues to show off versatility

CLEVELAND Bulls All-Star Luol Deng, the longest-tenured player on the team, is used to being utilized as a jack of all trades. Thats why on nights like Wednesday, when he struggled with his shot in the squads season-opening win over the Kings at the United Center, he doesnt panic.

Instead, he simply focuses on another weapon in his vast repertoire. In the victory over Sacramento, it was rebounding he snagged a dozen boards something he hopes to continue throughout the campaign.

I think I could help a lot in rebounding. I really want to focus on that. Last year, there were days that, with the schedule and everything, it was really tough, especially energy-wise, Deng told CSNChicago.com after the Bulls Friday-morning shootaround at Quicken Loans Arena. So, this year hopefully Ill have the energy and try to really focus on my rebounding.

Scoring will come. Its still early in the season. Im not worried about that at all. I will shoot the ball better, he continued. The first game is always the toughest, but its finding a way.

Deng could also be featured as a post-up scorer more, something displayed in the teams preseason finale, a win over Central Division rival Indiana. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau has used the tactic sparingly in the past, but with Derrick Rose currently sidelined, showcasing Dengs versatility and using his 6-foot-9 frame against smaller defenders could work to the Bulls favor.

We did it some at the end of last year and I thought it was very good for us, so I want to try to take advantage of that more, Thibodeau explained. I want us to play inside-out. I think the more that weve done that, the more effective weve been.

Added Deng: I think it will definitely help me get to the line more also.

Being aggressive, getting easy baskets, but also getting to the free-throw line, especially when a team is in the bonus.

Deng isnt an isolation-based scorer, so even with the increased attention that will potentially be paid to him in Roses absence, he should still remain productive on offense. In addition to posting up, Deng has greatly improved his long-range shooting over the years, he has a potent pull-up game, crashes the offensive glass and scores in transition, but cutting off the ball has also developed into a real strong point for him.

When you cut the way he does, you can draw fouls and I think your team can take advantage of that because it gets you into the bonus earlier, so Ive been pleased with our ability to get to the free-throw line thus far and I want to continue to do that, Thibodeau said. Hes been around a long time and hes shown that each year, hes gotten better and better, and I think he and Rip have great chemistry together. Then, I think theyre understanding now, too, the more we play through the post and going to Carlos and Joakim, it sets up your cutting game even more effectively.

Luols added a lot to his game. Hes added the three-point shot, which makes people come up to him more and so, then he can put it down on the floor and now hes using his cutting to get into the post more, and hes a very good random cutter from the weak side, so he can score a number of different ways and thats sort of what his strength is, his ability to read how the game is going, what the defense is doing and to play off those things.

ICYMI: Wendell Carter Jr. out 8-12 weeks; Corey Crawford returns to the ice; Kris Bryant angers Cardinal Nation;

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USA TODAY

ICYMI: Wendell Carter Jr. out 8-12 weeks; Corey Crawford returns to the ice; Kris Bryant angers Cardinal Nation;

Wendell Carter Jr.'s rookie season might be over due to a thumb injury, Corey Crawford returned to the ice for the Blackhawks and Kris Bryant pissed off Cardinal Nation. Here's what you might have missed from the weekend in Chicago sports:

Bulls

Wendell Carter Jr.'s rookie season appears to be over following news that the 19-year-old needs thumb surgery. Carter's season ends as an unknown, much like the rest of the Bulls' season.

Chicago-native Dwyane Wade played his final NBA game in Chicago on Saturday night, a 117-103 Heat win. It is impossible to tell the story of Wade's Hall of Fame career without including Chicago.

No player was happier to return to Chicago from the Bulls' 0-5 West Coast trip than Kris Dunn, whose midrange game has disappeared.

Following their big loss to the Heat, Zach LaVine had telling comments about the state of the Bulls. Matt Peck, David Watson and John Sabine react to that and more on the latest Bulls Outsiders Podcast.

Blackhawks

The Blackhawks snapped a five-game losing streak on Sunday, taking down the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals 8-5. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane each had a big game, tallying five points apiece.

In other positive news, Corey Crawford returned to the ice before practice on Saturday. Crawford has been in concussion protocol since Dec. 16.

Henri Jokiharju was a healthy scratch on Sunday, but the Blackhawks are pleased with the rookie defenseman's progression.

Cubs

At Cubs Convention on Friday, Theo Epstein said he does not think the Cubs are done making moves this winter. However, the Cubs president mentioned how adding to the bullpen is the main focus and insisted there is a lot of work happening behind the scenes.

Epstein also laid out what suspended shortstop Addison Russell has to do to return to the Cubs.

New Cubs bench coach Mark Loretta was happy in California. Then, the Cubs came calling; what does Loretta bring to the team in 2019?

Yu Darvish is ready for takeoff after making just eight starts in 2018, his debut campaign on the North Side.

Kris Bryant called St. Louis boring, and Cardinal Nation was not too happy about it.

David Kaplan and Kelly Crull talked with Joe Maddon, Theo Epstein, Kris Bryant and many more on Friday's edition of SportsTalk Live.

Other

The White Sox are reportedly discussing a trade with the Dodgers regarding outfielder Joc Pederson. Plus, the Manny Machado sweepstakes are getting kind of mysterious.

What should the Bears do with impending free agent safety Adrian Amos? If the team re-signs Amos, he will have a new defensive backs coach in 2019, as the Bears hired Deshea Townsend on Friday.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, multiple teams are interested in former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt. Bears head coach Matt Nagy did not shut down the possibility of adding Hunt at the team's end of season press conference last week.

 

Bryce Harper jokes that Tony Romo knows where outfielder will sign in free agency

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USA TODAY

Bryce Harper jokes that Tony Romo knows where outfielder will sign in free agency

Is it possible that the best quarterback in Sunday’s AFC Championship was not on the field, but instead in the broadcast booth?

CBS analyst and former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was the talk of Sunday’s matchup between the Patriots and Chiefs. Romo consistently predicted plays before they happened, much to the delight and amazement of those watching the game on television.

MLB superstar Bryce Harper even chimed in on Twitter. Harper, who is still a free agent, jokingly tweeted that he called Romo to learn which team he will play for in 2019.

Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes delivered an instant-classic game on the field. However, Romo’s performance in the booth deserves recognition and should be remembered as well.

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