Im never going to admit it, man, Luol Deng told CSNChicago.com after Sundays Bulls overtime win at Detroit. Weve got a lot of guys, weve got depth. I think were going to start using our depth now.After playing nearly 45 minutes -- and scoring only two points, though he limited Pistons counterpart Tayshaun Princes scoring, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out four assists -- Deng looked exhausted, as usual. Additionally, he suffered an injury to his ribs after taking a shot from Pistons guard Ben Gordon, a former teammate, as first reported by the Chicago Tribune.However, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau argued that while Deng currently leads the league in minutes per game, the fact that hes missed time with a torn ligament in his left wrist -- a factor in his up-and-down shooting nights -- means he hasnt had as much wear and tear as one might expect.If you studied his total minutes, you would see that hes had plenty of rest this year. If you compare his total minutes for the season, dont forget hes missed nine games this season, so its not a guy thats piled up a ton of minutes, said a testy Thibodeau about the All-Star, who ranks 20th in the league in total minutes entering Monday. Its a valid question. I think for him, he knew this is what it would be like. Some days, its better than others. He still helps us a lot when hes not scoring. He does so many other things, whether hes rebounding the ball or he creates space. When hes on the floor, theyre not leaving him, so theres more space for Derrick to operate. I think that three-point shot is huge. Well see how it goes. Hes getting time off in practice. Maybe we should have him practice and give him the games off, I dont know.Deng is almost like a safety blanket to Thibodeau because of his versatility, so even on the nights on which he doesnt produce much scoring -- Im not just out there for my defense, Deng bristled -- his versatility and the mere threat of his varied offensive game helps the Bulls.Thibodeau explained: Thats the value of him. Hes on a primary scorer every night, so hes such a big part of our defense, I know theres going to be nights when hes not shooting well. Im good with that because of his rebounding, his defense and his ability to shoot the three. Even when hes not shooting well, theyre not leaving him, so his man is going to be out of the paint and thats what Derrick needs. Derrick needs space. Luol has shown hes more than capable of hitting that big three, even on nights hes not shooting well. You leave him open, hes a clutch shooter. Hes going to make those.
Rajon Rondo's emergence made sure the Bulls played on the edge but one always had to wonder where he would go over the line—an aspect Jae Crowder and the NBA figured out Friday night.
Rondo was fined $25,000 by the NBA for sticking his leg out in an apparent attempt to trip Crowder when Crowder was close to the Bulls' bench late in the first quarter of Game 3 Friday night.
[BULLS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]
Television replays caught Rondo's leg extending after Crowder hit a 3-pointer right in front of the Bulls' bench.
Rajon Rondo is sidelined with a thumb injury, but his legs seem to be working fine 🤔 pic.twitter.com/RLukiBAFuC— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 22, 2017
When asked Rondo claimed that due to an ACL surgery he had several years ago he had to extend his leg to keep it from getting stiff.
"When you tear an ACL your leg gets stiff on you. I always do that," Rondo said. "He may have been so deep on our bench."
Upon investigation from the NBA, it issued Rondo a stiff fine and the increasingly contentious series will take another turn Sunday evening in Game 4.
Rondo is expected to miss the rest of the series with a broken right thumb after being a key to the Bulls taking a 2-0 lead by stealing two wins in Boston last week, averaging a near triple-double.
Here are some of Saturday's top stories in Chicago sports: