TV: League Pass

  • Bulls All-Star forward Luol Deng makes his return to playing Monday after missing five games with a right hamstring strain. The Bulls went 3-2 in Deng’s absence, with second-year forward Jimmy Butler showing his potential in Deng’s place. Butler averaged 45 minutes a game, 14.2 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.7 steals as a starter. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Butler’s performance will not necessarily change Deng’s workload, which is a league-high 29.8 minutes per game.  “Jimmy is a big part of our team, but Luol has been huge for us,” Thibodeau said. “We know we have flexibility. Whatever the team needs. We are going to do what is best for the team.”
  • The last time the Bobcats came to Chicago, they ended an 18-game losing streak with a 91-81 upset of the host Bulls on New Year’s Eve. Since then, the Bobcats have gone 3-9, but Charlotte coach Mike Dunlap said the team did learn some lessons from that game. “With our young guys each game is a lesson,” he said. “We can point to this as one of our 11 wins that was substantial for technical reasons, but also a highlight on our young guys.”
  • In the spring of 2008, Mike Dunlap was an assistant with the Denver Nuggets when the Bulls requested permission to interview him for their vacant head coaching job. They ended up choosing Vinny Del Negro.  Dunlap said he was surprised by the interview request. “I’m surprised to hear from my wife, let alone the Bulls. (Bulls Vice President) John Paxson and the crew put me through the paces on the white board. It was a really good experience.”
  • Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau called Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo Monday to express his disappointment that Rondo suffered a season-ending ACL injury Sunday. Thibodeau served as an assisstant coach with the Celtics before becoming the Bulls head coach and worked with Rondo. “He has really grown,” Thibodeau said. “In my eyes, he has become a superstar in this league.”

Kent McDill

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