Bulls 113, Bucks 90 — FINAL
MILWAUKEE — Luol Deng returned for the Bulls Saturday night, a prize that is far more valuable then the win the earned in blowout fashion over the Bucks 113-90.
As is the case with Cubs games in Milwaukee, the Bradley Center was filled with mostly Bulls fans who took advantage of the short commute. They got a treat with the Bulls offensively exploding on the Bucks to win their second straight game and move above .500 on this road trip
It didn’t take Luol Deng long to score after returning to the hardwood for the first time since injuring his wrist two weeks ago. Just 76 second into the game Deng scored a Derrick Rose assisted layup much to the appeasement of the Bulls fans in attendance. Deng elected to not have surgery on his torn ligament in his wrist which was cause for concern in terms of his ability to be a top small forward for the Bulls.
“This is going to be the pain. I can’t make it any worse.” Deng said. “I felt it and I’m going to feel it. But I’m fine.”
“I felt it, (and) I’m going to feel it,” Deng continued. “As the game goes on, I forgot about it. I really was cautious at the start of the game. As the game went on, just playing basketball, I didn’t really think about it until I fell (in the fourth quarter).”
But for fans who thought that Deng would be eased back into the lineup were very much mistaken. Tom Thibodeau initially eased Deng back in but eventually gave him 41 minutes.
“He got out there and did everything,” Thibodeau said. ”Once he showed he could handle contact, we got back to his normal rotation.”
However there is two sides of the isle when it comes to Deng’s return. There are those happy to have him back in the lineup but other that feel he is rushing back, which could lead to further injury. The fact that Deng played over 40 minutes in a blowout and had a spill in the fourth doesn’t build confidence.
There is also the fact that Deng wanted to go on Thursday against the Knicks, but doctors advised him he needed at least four weeks of rest to be considered fully healed and ready to play.
Besides the obvious story of Deng returning, the Bulls had a fantastic night on offense. Chicago only made four trips to the stripe, missing just once. However the biggest stat is that the Bulls hit 14 three pointers on the night. The Bench Mob also had a productive night with Kyle Korver and C.J. Watson both going over ten points with Korver putting up 18.
Rose finished with 26 points and nearly had a triple-double with 13 assist and 7 rebounds. But after the game Rose moved away from his performance and praised the return of Deng.
“He makes the game easy,” Rose said. “He makes everybody comfortable out there. It feels good when we have all our leaders out there.”
The Bulls get Super Sunday off to watch The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills — because there’s nothing else on right? After that it’s off to New Jersey to battle the lowly Nets. Chicago has a real good chance to correct a bumpy start to this nine game road trip in New Jersey by winning their third straight.
But for now the buzz around Chicago will center on Deng and whether or not he’s ready to return. His 41 minute, 21 point return on Saturday says a lot.