Deng celebrates birthday by protecting 'little bro'

447719.jpg

Deng celebrates birthday by protecting 'little bro'

Sunday, April 17, 2011
Posted: 12:49 a.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

No wonder Pacers interim head coach Frank Vogel downplayed his teams Rose Plan before the game.

Vogel didnt want the Pacers game plan to limit Derrick Rose compared to the legendary Jordan Rules the Detroit Pistons notoriously used against the Bulls over 20 years ago, but it was hard not to think of those very same old-school tactics after Saturdays Game 1, won by the Bulls, who were led by Roses 39 points.

WATCH: Game 1's great finish revisited

Derrick Rose was too much down the stretch, Vogel marveled afterwards. I look at 39 points and Im shocked that I see 39 because I thought that we did a good job, the most of the night, on him.

"The kids out of this world. Hes got Allen Iversons speed, Jason Kidds vision, Chauncey Billups shooting and Michael Jordans athleticism. How do you guard that? We did a good job on him. He was too much.

Rose earned 19 of those points the hard way, via 21 free-throw attempts, in a physical affair that led to tempers flaring throughout the contest.

It was pretty physical, but from me working out, lifting weights, I should be fine, remarked a relaxed Rose. Right now, Im feeling good and I cant wait to go eat.

If anything, youre not going to get punked. I know that Im quiet, but that doesnt mean anything and when youre out there, if you think its a dirty play, youve got to say something. If you dont, theyre going to continue to do it and Luol, a couple of my teammates, they did what theyre supposed to do, continued the soft-spoken but fiery competitor.

I knew that they were going to be that way when I went to the basket try to be physical, try to put it in my head that its going to be hard getting there and I just tried to keep going. Some calls, I didnt get and a lot of them, I did.

Chimed in Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, a veteran of emotional playoff battles: Derrick was terrific all game long and to get to the line 21 times, it showed his aggressiveness and he probably could have been there a lot more, too. Thats the way it is. Thats the way its been all year. I trust that theyll make the calls and hell go to the line.

Roses teammates, however, took some exception to what they considered over-the-top physicality by the Pacers, leading to two in-game confrontations and a technical foul on normally mild-mannered Luol Deng, following Tyler Hansbroughs hard, fourth-quarter foul on Rose.

I consider Derrick like a little brother to me and when you see him getting hit like that, its tough. You want to do something about it, but weve got to keep our composure and understand that we cant let it happen all the time like that. Lu got a tech at the end. We cant have that happen either, said Joakim Noah, who with Rose, let Indiana veteran big man Jeff Foster know of his displeasure after a similar incident in the first half.

Added Deng: I dont think Tyler is a dirty player or anything, but I think its part of their game plan. When Derrick drives, instead of just fouling him, to really whack him. It happened a couple times in the first half and the last time we played them in Indiana.

Speaking of Deng who turned 26 Saturday after blanketing Pacers leading scorer Danny Granger in the first half, he turned his offense up a notch in the second half to complement Roses efforts. More important than his statistical contributions, however, might have been his exhortation of the crowd after picking up that aforementioned technical.

It was just a reaction, said Deng. Emotionally, I just stepped up. We needed the crowd behind us. That time of the game, we just needed whatever we could get and I think the crowd responded great, and it kind of got us going.

Noah, who is more known for displaying his emotions on the floor than Deng, appreciated both his teammate's energy and the United Center crowds hearty support.

This is my fourth year with Lu right now and hes playing his best basketball. I know that we wouldnt be in the position that were in right now if it wasnt for Lu. Just watching him enjoying the moment I know there have been some frustrating times for him and to see him just enjoying the game, it really helps us, said Noah, who also quipped, Its his birthday? He didnt tell me. How old is he, 42? about his longtime teammate.

Added Rose: We needed every fan in there to cheer. That really gave us the momentum in the last two minutes when we were making shots and thats a team that hasnt been playing together for a long time in their first playoff appearance. I think it got to them.

Maybe the young Pacers were rattled down the stretch, but their coach was still pleased with the performance of his squad, especially the second-year duo of Hansbrough and point guard Darren Collison, who each gave their defenders fits.

The kid Hansbrough is a big-time competitor, said Vogel. We knew they were come after us, they were going to get in our face and we took advantage of Boozer having foul trouble, and going at him. Tyler was very aggressive. He was either going to foul out or let Tyler score, and Tyler kept going at him. We had great poise. For our guys first playoff game, most of them, I thought they showed you what they were made of.".

Concurred Hansbrough: I think weve got to keep playing like we did. It gives us some confidence, but also shows us how we need to stay composed in the end and hopefully get a win.

This much is for sure: Indiana has the Bulls respect and full attention moving forward.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Jimmy Butler limited, Rajon Rondo out as odds stack against Bulls for Game 6

Jimmy Butler limited, Rajon Rondo out as odds stack against Bulls for Game 6

If the Bulls are going to push the Celtics to a Game 7 with a win tonight at the United Center, it’ll have to be under the most improbable of circumstances.

Jimmy Butler is banged up and finally, the Bulls are admitting it as he has a sore left knee he suffered from a collision in Game 4 that has affected him in Game 5. And point guard Rajon Rondo will not be making a miraculous comeback to lead the troops in some made-for-TV moment.

Butler took just two shots in the fourth quarter in Game 5, clearly favoring his left knee, the knee he jumps off of, limiting an offensive game that relies a lot on explosion and contact.

“Jimmy, he’s gonna battle. One thing you know about Jimmy, he’s as well conditioned as anybody in the game,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He’s as big a competitor as anybody in the game. He does have soreness, no denying that. He’s gonna continue to go out there and do everything he has.”

After bumping and bruising his way to 23 free-throw attempts in Game 4, Butler took just one free throw in Boston two days ago — the greatest indicator of how this injury is affecting his game.

Hoiberg said Butler didn’t do much in the morning shootaround, and it seems the best method could be using him as a decoy if the Celtics still treat him as a player capable of scoring 30.

“He’s still gonna have the ball in his hands a lot,” Hoiberg said. “Tried to give him the ball with the side cleared, and let him go to work. I thought he drew the defense and got us a couple quality looks, we just didn’t knock it down.”

With Rondo, while he’s improving and has a track record of playing through injuries, it appears his broken right thumb isn’t healing at the rate it needs to for him to be on the floor and contribute without risking further damage.

“Not much. Pretty much the same,” Hoiberg said. “He’s still got a lot of soreness in that right hand, especially with everything he’s got with the torn ligament and also the broken thumb. Not able to do enough at this point.”

So without their best player and their most indispensible, the Bulls are facing an uphill task against a Celtics team that made the Bulls lose a little poise in a critical juncture of Game 5, and will try to push all the buttons again.

And it means more will fall on Dwyane Wade’s experienced shoulders in the meantime, and he believes Butler can be effective even while limited.

“My approach is going to be the same as it was last game — just try to be aggressive. And try to find other opportunities to find a way that Jimmy can still lead,” Wade said. “He’s just a little banged up. It’s fine. It’s the NBA. Jimmy is a tough guy. We have to find different ways to make sure he’s involved.”

For the rest of the roster, Wade believes finding a way to continue their season appears to be a matter of opportunity instead of panic, with the urgency being the best teacher.

“There definitely should be,” Wade said. “This is a big game for our season. It seems like every playoff game, the cliché thing to say is, ‘Oh, this is the biggest game of our season.’ But it rings true tonight. I think it’s a good thing for this young team to be in this situation now just to see how we respond.”

Five Things to Watch: Bulls battle Celtics in Game 6

nba_playoffs_gm_6_vs_celtics_ton.jpg

Five Things to Watch: Bulls battle Celtics in Game 6

Watch as the Bulls take on the Celtics tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6:00 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Bulls Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Bulls.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH

1. The point guard carousel. It's been something to watch all year, and with the Bulls desparately searching for answers it will continue to be one heading into Game 6. Isaiah Canaan actually played well against Isaiah Thomas, and Dwyane Wade looked comfortable initiating the offense. That'll need to continue simply for the Bulls to have a chance, with Rajon Rondo ruled out for the game.

2. What's Jimmy Butler's health status? Jimmy Butler attempted just two free throws in the fourth quarter of Game 5. He only went to the free throw line one time, in the second quarter. This goes without saying, but the Bulls' only chance to win Games 6 and 7 is for Butler to be playing like his old self. With his back against the wall, maybe we'll see that "Jimmy Game" where he wins it by himself.

3. Is Isaiah Thomas heating up? The smallest player on the court is starting to heat up in the series. While his shooting hasn't been great, he was super in Game 3, took over in Game 4 and made plenty of plays in Game 5 that led to a win. It wouldn't be surprising at all to see him continue this, as his eyes seem to light up every trip down the floor with Rondo on the sideline.

4. Who's the next surprise contributor? Bobby Portis, Paul Zipser, Isaiah Canaan and now Anthony Morrow have all made surprising contributions in the series. At this point that's what it's going to take to compete against a deep Celtics team that's healthy and rolling with some momentum. Could it be Cris Felicio playing big? Perhaps Portis gets hot again from deep? Either way, it's got to be someone helping Butler and Wade.

5. The Bulls' backs are against the wall. It's simple. Win or go home. How will the Bulls respond in this type of situation, with Boston holding all the momentum and looking to end this before it goes back to Boston for a do-or-die Game 7. The Bulls don't have a lot of pressure on them from a national standpoint, but you can bet their expectations for themselves are large. How they respond early will say a lot about the job Fred Hoiberg did getting them ready.

- Buy tickets to tonight's game

- Check out the latest stats and standings to make sure you’re ready for action

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

- NBC Sports App FAQ: All your questions answered

- Latest on the Bulls: All of the most recent news and notes